New Delhi: In what seems to be an attempt to consolidate non-Yadav OBC communities with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has announced that a road in each of the state’s districts will be renamed after Karpoori Thakur, former Bihar chief minister and prominent leader of Other Backward Classes (OBC).
UP’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who also holds the Public Works Department portfolio, announced the government’s decision during a meeting of representatives from OBC communities in Lucknow on Wednesday. Addressing ‘Samajik Pratinidhi Baithak’ (meeting of social representatives) in Lucknow, Maurya said the Congress, SP and BSP were trying to stop Narendra Modi from becoming prime minister again and so OBCs should unite to support Modi. Wednesday’s meeting was attended by leaders of the Rajbhar caste. UP chief minister Adityanath also addressed the meeting, where he announced a memorial for Raja Suheldeo, the 11th-century king of Shravasti, who belonged to the Rajbhar community.
A similar meeting with the Prajapati community was organised on Tuesday, the first of 40 such meetings the BJP is planning to hold in Lucknow to reach out to OBC communities.
Indian Express quoted BJP’s OBC wing state general secretary Chiranjiv Chaurasiya as saying that more such meetings will be organised at the district level for smaller castes. “These programmes are aimed to attract OBC support for BJP in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
As part of its strategy to woo the voter base of the Samajwadi Party, BJP is trying to consolidate its non-Yadav OBC voter base in the state. A member of the non-Yadav OBC community, Maurya made the announcement before a gathering of the nai (barber) community, to which Karpuri Thakur belonged.
Considered one of the leading architects of political mobilisation of extremely backward classes (EBCs) in Bihar, Thakur was popularly known as Jan Nayak (people’s hero). Former chief minister of Bihar from December 1970 to June 1971 and from December 1977 to April 1979, Thakur passed away in 1988 Thakur is considered a mentor to several political stalwarts from Bihar including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar.
Leader of the Janta Dal, Thakur was memorialised in Bihar with his birthplace, Pitaunjhia, renamed Karpuri Gram after his death. Other such markers of memorialisation include the Darbhanga-Amritsar Jan Nayak Express train, several stadiums, colleges, hospitals and statues. The Department of Posts also released a commemorative stamp in his memory.
Last week, parliament passed a bill providing constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.