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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  In UP, Narendra Modi tries to play it right with OBC card

Realizing the growing aspirations of the other backward class (OBCs) members in Uttar Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is making efforts to get their support.

Modi, who is a four-time chief minister of Gujarat, has never used his caste to win assembly elections in his home state, the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee told people of Lakhimpur Kheri and Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Monday that it was because of efforts made by B.R. Ambedkar that he, a person from the backward class, was able to stand before the crowd.

“B.R. Ambedkar gave many rights to people in the Constitution. But Congress failed to acknowledge it and never gave him a Bharat Ratna. It was during a government supported that BJP when Ambedkar was given a Bharat Ratna. It is because of the efforts of Ambedkar that I am standing before you," Modi said while addressing a public meeting in Lakhimpur Kheri and Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Modi plans to alter the electoral arithmetic in Uttar Pradesh, and was quick to realize that this was not possible without playing the caste card and tapping the OBC vote. At the moment, the Samajwadi Party has a stranglehold over this vote base. Not only does it command the Yadav vote, it has also successfully lured the non-Yadav OBCs to its fold through incentives.

BJP is also using the backward status of Modi in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections and had fielded him from Varanasi to boost its chances in the general election. The main opposition party has also fielded around 30 OBC candidates in Uttar Pradesh this time while in the 2009 Lok Sabha election it had only given 13 elections tickets to OBCs.

Modi’s prospects of leading his party to victory in Lok Sabha elections and becoming the prime minister depends on his party’s performance in Uttar Pradesh which elects 80 Lok Sabha members. BJP, at present, has only 10 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Even as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) claims that it doesn’t believe in castes and the organization has never supported caste-based politics in country, but in a rare gesture it has allowed the BJP to play the caste card in the election.

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Updated: 14 Apr 2014, 07:14 PM IST
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