New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party is in a huddle as it attempts to counter the latest attempt by the Samajwadi Party to divide Hindu voters on caste lines in Uttar Pradesh by creating a controversy over Ramcharitmanas.
The move comes after repeated attempts by the Samajwadi Party national general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya to stir a controversy over Ramcharitmanas. Maurya, a prominent OBC leader in Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that verses in Ramcharitmanas “insult" a large section of the society of lower castes and demanded that these sections be "banned".
The comments by Maurya are being seen as part of a strategy of the Akhilesh Yadav-led party’s attempts to create a divide between the forward and backward caste Hindus in the state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Any such divide in the Hindu vote bank will prove to be detrimental to the BJP’s cause, sources said.
The top leadership of the BJP has held discussions and has called for further strengthening of consolidation of Hindu voters in Uttar Pradesh. The plan of the saffron front will be to create momentum leading to the opening of Ram Temple at Ayodhya early next year, sources said.
The saffron unit has already begun preparations towards this by holding massive road shows in parts of UP as the "shaligram" stones for statues in the temple were brought to the holy Hindu city of Ayodhya from Nepal.
The BJP feels that Ram Mandir will come to its rescue which will be unveiled for the people well ahead of the 2024 general elections, sources said.
Once the Ram Janmbhoomi Temple at Ayodhya is unveiled, the BJP hopes for an unprecedented coming together of the Hindu votes. This is expected to unite the caste and non-caste Hindus and create a consolidation that would help it in the next general elections, sources said.
The BJP is desperate to hold on to its consolidated Hindu vote bank in the state which has been electing the maximum number of Lok Sabha MPs for the saffron unit in 2014 and 2019. The party hopes for a consolidated Hindu vote bank as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a third term in 2024.
With 80 Lok Sabha seats, Uttar Pradesh has been the biggest contributor to the BJP’s electoral cause. The state electorate has wholeheartedly backed the duo of Modi and Yogi Adityanath over the last four important polls in the state, two Lok Sabha and two state Assembly polls.
Is Akhilesh Yadav trying to claim Mayawati's legacy?
The entire controversy being fomented by the Samajwadi camp over Ramcharatimanas is also being seen as an attempt by party chief Akhilesh Yadav to usurp the legacy and the Dalit vote bank of Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.
In fact, Yadav has claimed himself to be a shudra (a Dalit) this week, clearly as an attempt to reach out to the Dalit community in the state. BSP is considered as a party which has a strong base amongst the Dalits in the state.
Moreover, a banner was put up outside the Samajwadi Party office located in Lucknow, which says, “Say with pride that we are Shudra”. This is also being seen as an attempt by the SP to eat into the voter base of the Mayawti-led party. If the OBC, led by Yadavs, come in partnership with the Dalits, it would be very difficult to defeat it in the caste politics of Uttar Pradesh.
Sources pointed out that one should not forget that SP also enjoys massive support amongst the Muslim community of the state. This would turn out to be a formidable social engineering attempt, one which was last attempted when the then SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and engineered by coming together with Mayawati-led BSP.