Home >Politics >Policy >NDA tries to get its caste equations right in key states

New Delhi: Despite his government’s emphasis on governance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also trying to exploit complex social and caste factors in states where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strong organizational presence and in those where it is seeking to establish itself over the next couple of years.

Out of 21 ministers inducted in Sunday’s cabinet expansion, Modi brought in two each from Rajasthan and Maharashtra and one each from Haryana and Punjab. Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana are states where the BJP did well in Lok Sabha and assembly elections this year.

“The BJP had chosen chief ministers in both Haryana and Maharashtra who are members of the upper caste and people with administrative skills. There is a deliberate attempt by the party which wants to send a message that it also cares for other castes. BJP is trying to balance its tilt towards the upper caste," said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

Mrug also pointed out that both Suresh Prabhu from Maharashtra and former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who were inducted into the cabinet, belong to the Brahmin community.

In order to give prominence to the various castes in these four states, Modi chose Jat leaders Sanwar Lal Jat, who had defeated Sachin Pilot of the Congress party in Ajmer constituency in Rajasthan, and Chaudhary Birender Singh, who recently joined the BJP from the Congress in Haryana.

Similarly, in Maharashtra, Modi picked Hansraj Ahir, a member of the other backward classes (OBCs), who had helped the BJP expose the coal scam involving the former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

In Punjab, Modi chose to induct Vijay Sampla, a dalit leader who is close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor. Sampla’s induction is also important because religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of the Dera Sacha Sauda had helped the BJP in the Haryana elections. Singh enjoys the support of dalits in both Punjab and Haryana and Simpla’s inclusion is a nod to the community for supporting the BJP.

Similarly, after sweeping Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is now focusing on the coming assembly elections in Bihar in 2015 and Uttar Pradesh in 2017, and Modi inducted seven ministers from these two states.

The ruling party promoted Rajputs and Bhumihars by giving ministerial positions to Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Giriraj Singh, and tried to reach out to the Yadav community by making Ram Kirpal Yadav a minister of state. All three are from Bihar.

Once a member of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Ram Kirpal Yadav had joined the BJP just before the Lok Sabha elections.

“It is not just that BJP is giving ministerial positions to people who belong to the OBCs, Yadavs and Bhumihars, but the party is also preparing a second line of leadership in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar." Mrug added.

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