Rama Krishna Sangem
Ruling BJP will be playing OBC card in a big way in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The party claims to be the real champion of OBCs in the country is going to amend the Women Reservations Bill – 2023, just passed by both the Houses of Parliament this week. OBCs (Other Backward Classes) constitute around 50 per cent of the nation’s population, followed by SC/STs, among the marginalized sections, sources told Excel India.
If one were to go by the combative strategy of BJP ministers and MPs in the just adjourned Parliament special session, it appears BJP is ready to take on Congress on the OBCs front. As tings unfold, Congress is getting increased support from Muslim minorities while retaining its traditional base among SC/STs. Of course, some of Opposition’s INDIA front which includes Congress – like JD(U), RJD and DMK are OBC dominant parties.
Congress leaders Sonia, Rahul and Kharge demanded that women’s reservation Bill should also include sub- quota for OBCs while it has the same for SC/STs. This particular demand echoed across the country. Even BRS MLC K Kavitha too demanded that OBC women must be provided with some sub-quota in the Bill, just like SC/STs. AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi’s demand for Muslim women too found some sympathetic response from most opposition parties.
BJP flaunts numbers of OBC ministers, MPs, MLAs and MLCs
During the course of the debate in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, BJP leaders indicated that they are ready to accommodate OBCs in the women’s Bill. Home Minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha said that the opposition parties need not worry over this aspect of the Bill as the same can be provided in the coming days. “We can further improve the Bill with OBC quota later,” he told Rajya Sabha.
BJP says PM Narendra Modi himself an OBC, belongs to Teli community, a listed backward caste in Gujarat. This Modi government at the Centre has given a record 36 per cent representation in the Council of Ministers – with 27 OBCs, out of 78 total strength. Of them 5 out of 27 are of Cabinet rank. The party has 85 OBCs among its 303 MPs in Lok Sabha and 366 (27 per cent) of its total 1,358 MLAs and 65 out of 163 MLCs (40 per cent) are OBCs.
OBCs crucial in Hindutwa mission
These figures speak volumes as the party till now is projected as an upper caste Hindu dominant political entity. After 2014, when Modi era began, BJP has realized that Hindutwa agenda can only be taken forward with the support and active involvement of OBCs in the country. As of now, there around as many as 2,650 OBC castes in the central list while many others are waiting to be included.
Sources said BJP would intensify its pro-OBC efforts in the coming elections. The party will claim according the National OBC Commission constitutional status while offering them with many financial schemes. Traditionally, Congress has focused only on SC/STs and minorities while ignoring OBCs, but, BJP will mainstream the latter, said a senior BJP MP from Karnataka while talking to Excel India on September 22, Friday.