New Delhi: There is a famous saying by Political pandits in India. Voting in India is heavily divided based on Caste and Religion. This is harsh but true. This has been happening for ages.
Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) until 2014 was known to be part of Upper Caste Hindus. In 2009, a mass chunk of the upper caste votes was divided between BJP and Congress. While the Lower Castes, OBC’s and Scheduled Castes votes were mostly enjoyed by Regional Parties like SP, BSP, RJD, NCP, etc.
The First Major Breakthrough in these theories came and it shocked every newsroom on 16th May 2014. The big thrust for BJP’s Narendra Modi-led NDA victories in 2014 came from areas where OBC’s and Scheduled Castes were dominant. However, it was clear that there is a north-south divide amongst voters, Northern India was dominated by BJP, and those in the south voted for regional parties.
The secret was later revealed by senior BJP leaders, that the primal attention was on the economically weaker but numerically dominant areas of Dalits. The BJP successfully garnered votes by exploiting economic inequalities among sub-castes and Jatis by attacking and destroying local leaders' image backed by Regional Parties. This strategy was most successful in the northern parts of the country while BJP largely relied on allies to garner the OBC vote in the southern parts.
BJP is a political party backed by RSS and the organization is said to be Brahmin dominant. Hence, it was always believed BJP won’t support Lower castes. During British rule, Dalits were more or fewer untouchables under the caste system that Indians followed rigorously. The practice was followed for years until the sense of sociality rushed in Indian Subcontinent and Reservation became reality for equality.
Everyone thought it’s a one-time thing and won’t happen in further elections. This was again squashed in Assembly elections and most importantly in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Elections. BJP won 325 out of 403 assembly seats and their vote share has risen by 260%. Despite the effects of demonetization and the perception that voters will act differently in parliamentary and assembly elections.
Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of Lok Sabha and assembly seats, 80 and 403 respectively. So, whoever wins the UP the seat has the most probability to conquer the Capital. For a long, UP was impossible for BJP. Dalits stood firmly behind the Bahujan Samaj Party, while Yadav’s were loyal voters of the Samajwadi Party.
To target and unify the Dalits and schedule votes like never before. BJP worked on the unification of Castes by helping on economic grounds. Various schemes like PM JAN DHAN, PM AWAAS YOJNA, and many other welfare schemes were introduced in the past 6 years to dominate the vote bank. With this lens of Hindu nationalism was also put up on the notch by BJP.
In 2019, due to various allegations on BJP over atrocities on Minorities and Scheduled Castes. It was believed that BJP will leave the center due to losing support. Instead, Narendra Modi and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) got Mammoth Mandate again. The phenomenon cast a doom spell on the caste-based parties of India’s heartland, primarily Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, and Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal who have shaped Indian politics over the last decades.
All were over in their dominant areas. More importantly in Bengal, the Upper caste and Muslims voted for Trinamool Congress while the Lowers opted for BJP. This was quite shocking for everyone. In Bengal, BJP started gaining influence among the masses during panchayat elections, local organizers of the BJP and the RSS started building public opinion against the Trinamool congress operating in Kolkata Assembly. BJP was at the helm against Mamata Banerjee’s policy of “appeasing Minorities”. A storm was created that led BJP to dominate in SC/ST’s and OBC panchayats.
Another major reason behind this unification is Narendra Modi’s image. Prime Minister himself is an OBC (Other Backward Classes).
Therefore, the BJP’s political success can be attributed to a mixture of Image, popularity, and gentle crafting in social alliances by calling upon electorally significant castes and sub-castes. This created a new model of political representation and mobilization for BJP.
The overall makeover of Prime Minister Modi as a leader of the Other Backward Classes and his message of the BJP as the party of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) brought about a sea change in the BJP’s reach among different communities in the heartland and now started to impact South Land.
Most importantly, the Bhartiya Janata Party’s success lies in its ability to detect, changing voter behavior, and enact itself among the masses. The BJP successfully laid itself as a political option among the castes and subcastes unsatisfied with the leaders and parties they used to follow such as the Yadav’s among the OBCs and Kumar’s among the Dalits.
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