The very essence of participatory democracy rests on ‘dialogue’ and ‘diversity.’ However, modern democracies have stooped so low that the lines between dialogue and derogation have blurred. Recently, the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh was taken aback after a new controversy sparked by an order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
A bench, comprising Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Saurabh Lavania, ordered that the urban local body (ULB) elections in Uttar Pradesh be held as soon as possible and that no reservation be given to other backward classes (OBCs) in these elections until the state government has complied with the ‘triple test’ mandated by the Supreme Court.
Opposition tries to Implicate BJP through rumor-mongering
The verdict of the High Court to conduct local body elections without reservations has provided the opposition parties in the state with an opportunity to implicate the ruling BJP in the controversy. The opposition parties, namely, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), have targeted the BJP and its leaders for taking away the “OBC reservation” from the people of the reserved community. The verbal battle is intrinsically aimed at portraying the BJP as “an anti-reservation party,” leading to a long array of accusations and rebuttals.
Branding the saffron party as “anti-reservation,” the Samajwadi party has accused the Yogi administration of “snatching the right to reservation from the OBC community.” Furthermore, the socialists accused the government of “taking the reservation of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the times to come.’ The supremo of the SP, Akhilesh Yadav, has urged the people from the backward communities to reunite and join the Samajwadi Party. The call of the leader of opposition can be said to be made with the endeavor to capitalize on the ‘rumor-mongering’ by showing BJP in bad light.
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Following his leader, another senior SP leader, Dr. Ram Gopal Yadav, has taken a jibe at Keshav Prasad Maurya, a top brass of the BJP and Deputy Chief Minister of UP, by calling the leader “a bandhua mazdoor” of the party. On similar lines, BSP President Mayawati has accused the BJP and its government of having an “anti-OBC and anti-reservation mindset” as he believed the “triple test” should have supposedly been completed by the UP government in a timely manner. She also asserts that “the OBC community will definitely punish the BJP for their wrong doings.”
However, damage control was quickly implemented as CM Yogi Adityanath was quick to respond to the opposition’s rumour mongering. CM Adityanath has declared that the urban local body polls will take place only after the other backward communities have received their due reservation. The BJP government promptly stated that it will appoint a commission to assure OBC reservation on the basis of the “triple test.”
In a tweet, Keshav Prasad Maurya stated that the rights of the OBCs would not be compromised. Further, criticising Akhilesh Yadav for his “anti-OBC” propaganda, the Deputy CM threw light on the “drama” of the opposition to defame the BJP by misleading the people of the state. He went on to add that if an OBC quota is not guaranteed, the civic elections will not be held in Uttar Pradesh.
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Quick Damage Control strategy of the BJP
The state leadership of the BJP was quick to come up with a damage control mechanism to control rumour mongering over the issue and to preserve the party’s OBC vote bank. “OBCs are the biggest vote bank in UP, and with their support, the BJP came to power in UP in the 2017 and 2022 polls and also won maximum Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 and 2019 general elections.”
However, following the recent court order, the opposition has gotten a much-needed opportunity to sneak through the traditional vote bank of the party by hatching propaganda against the party and calling it “anti-reservation.”
The stakes for the BJP are too high as the state has an estimated 43.13% of the OBC population. If the opposition succeeds in its propaganda, it can successfully dent the Kurmis, Kachhi-Kushwaha-Shakya-Maurya-Saini-Mali, Lodha, Jats (who are OBC in UP), Kewat (Nishad), Kahar-Kashyap, and Bhar-Rajbhar vote banks of the BJP.
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Uttar Pradesh government will set up a commission
The Uttar Pradesh government has been called upon to set up a commission to ensure the reservations for other backward classes are guaranteed for the urban local body elections in the state. Taking to Twitter, CM Adityanath stated that if necessary, the state government will file an appeal with the Supreme Court against the High Court.
“The Uttar Pradesh government will set up a commission for the urban local general body elections to provide reservation to citizens of other backward classes based on the triple test. The urban general body elections will only be concluded after that is done,” the Chief Minister said in his tweet.
उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार नगरीय निकाय सामान्य निर्वाचन के परिप्रेक्ष्य में एक आयोग गठित कर ट्रिपल टेस्ट के आधार पर अन्य पिछड़ा वर्ग (OBC) के नागरिकों को आरक्षण की सुविधा उपलब्ध कराएगी।
इसके उपरान्त ही नगरीय निकाय सामान्य निर्वाचन को सम्पन्न कराया जाएगा।
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) December 27, 2022
His tweet highlights, “If necessary, the State Government will also appeal in the Hon’ble Supreme Court after considering all the legal aspects regarding the decision of the Hon’ble High Court.”
That is to say, the government’s “pro-active” and timely rebuttal of the “opposition propaganda” saved the state from falling prey to the travesty of “hate and propaganda” politics, to which the opposition resorted by dragging the name of the BJP into a controversy that had nothing to do with the Yogi administration.
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