UP politics: swamped by a Dalit-fiendly wave

Khurram Nizami

Lucknow, July 28

Following the assassination of Samajwadi Party (SP) member of Parliament (MP) Phoolan Devi, all parties in Uttar Pradesh are keen to promote themselves as champions of the dalits and backwards, especially with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections. SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is trying all possible routes to attack the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both in the state as well as in the Centre. In the process, both parties are washing their dirty linen in public.

Chief Minister Rajnath Singh is particularly in a hurry to make a dent in the Opposition vote bank, especially by wooing the Dalits and backwards. On 26 July, he secured the approval of his cabinet for the recruitment of 20,000 primary school teachers by September as per the most backward caste (MBC) formula.

This announcement came at a time when the SP was busy accusing him for the curtailment of Phoolan Devi's security cover. It was also made clear that the Social Justice Committee, headed by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Hukum Singh, is to recommend a quantum of reservation within the 27 per cent reservation for other backward castes (OBC) for the MBC by 31 August.

The recruitment of 20,000 primary school teachers would be made on the basis of reservation prevailing at the time of the recruitment. Significantly, Rajnath Singh air-dashed to Chitrakoot on the same day, to announce a special package of Rs 125 crore for the development of the Bundelkhand region.

Ironically, these announcements came at a time when the state government's fiscal health has been going through a severe exercise. The state government has already abolished 7,000 vacant posts in order to bring expenditure under control. Another 8,000 posts have been identified to be abolished. In such a situation, the induction of 20,000 primary school teachers means that the state exchequer has to bear the extra burden of 5,000 employees.

The question that remains is: will Rajnath's MBC's card yield results? There is a sort of a tug-of-war going on within the party between upper caste and lower caste leaders. One senior BJP leader said Rajnath Singh had not consulted them before finalizing the strategy of alluring the backward classes.

This rift came to fore on 18 July, when influential party leaders were not invited to a BJP backward leaders' meeting.

It is not only the SP and the BJP that are planning to lure dalits and backwards. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also rethinking on the re-induction of the sacked legislator's Barkhu Ram Verma and R K Choudhary.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: July 28, 2001
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