In a democracy, voters are the boss. But the Uttar Pradesh elections gave a paradigm twist to this home truth. It says beneficiaries are the king.
The voters, in the Indian democracy, have been grouped on the lines of castes, sub-castes and communities. In the cow belt states, caste satraps have grown like mushrooms in the fertile Gangetic plains. The caste calculus usually holds the fulcrum of victory at the altar of development in elections after elections.
Opposition's Chakravyuh In UP
Akhilesh Yadav strategised his 2022 poll campaign against Baba Adityanath-led BJP. The Yadav satrap had entered into an alliance with Jat party Rashtriya Lok Dal, Nishads, Rajbhars et al. The caste czars playing their natural game went to the town painting the Modi-Yogi-led BJP as an anathema to their respective castes. And all caste-emperor leaders are hoping that they can pocket their caste votes.
Why They Hope So?
In the 2017 elections, a high 101 seats in BJP's 312 tally had OBC winners. This time BJP had given tickets to 143 OBC candidates; whereas SP had made 171 OBC candidates.
Jats: Though the Jat population in UP stands at around a mere 2 percent, in western UP, the population of the community swells up to 15 percent. As the community has the tendency to vote a party en-bloc in elections, they have the potential to tilt the victory needle in as many as 30 percent or 130 seats in UPs 403 Assembly seats.
Rajbhars: As per UP govt data, the OBC constitutes around one-fourth of the population in nearly a dozen districts in eastern UP (Purvanchal). And the districts account for a total of 156 seats in the UP State Assembly. Their population in the whole of UP has been estimated at around 3 percent.
NISHADS: The party - NISHAD (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal) party headed by Sanjay Nishad. Founded in 2016, the party holds the flag of castes like Nishad, Mallah, Kewats, Manjhis (especially boatman community) et al.
He is the father of Pravin Nishad who had won the Gorakhpur parliamentary seat on an SP ticket in the 2018 by-polls.
The Gorakhpur seat was won by UP CM Yogi Adityanath. After resounding success in the 2017 UP Assembly, BJP faced a humiliating defeat in CM Yogi's bastion in 2018. And the big trouncer is none other than Sanjay Nishad's son.
As per the data available, they constitute around 18 percent of the OBC population. The community hold sway in as many as 160 seats in UP.
Kashyaps And Bhinds: In order to win over a chunk of this influential community in the Purvanchal, where their population, as per a UP govt report, is estimated at over 25-30 lakh, the Mulayam scion had entered into an alliance with Janwadi Party (Socialist).
The party had participated in the 2015 Bihar polls. It has some influence in over a dozen of seats in eastern UP and adjoining Bihar. The party had organised a caste meeting in UP in 2021 and urged their caste men to vote en-bloc in 2022 polls.
Besides, SP has sewn an alliance Apna Dal (S).
M-Y Vote Bank: Akhilesh Yadav's vote bank mainly draws support from Yadavs and Muslims. And as per 2012 Assembly poll results, the party had a popular vote share of 26 percent. The strategy of the Yadav scion had been to carve a sizeable most backward community vote bank to cut into BJP's MBC vote base.
Double Engine Booster Plan
It is not to say the BJP didn't give heed to OBC representation in its ticket distribution. The Party has given adequate and proportionate representation to the castes that constitute nearly 46 percent of the population in UP.
A glance shows that Akhilesh Yadav has given higher representation to OBCs than BJP, besides making alliances with caste-based parties.
Electorally speaking, both parties seem to be on equal keel in wooing OBCs. Moreover, Akhilesh has an upper hand, after clinching a deal with former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh's grandson Jayant Chaudhary.
But what is the booster plan that has breached the caste prism? It is the beneficiaries of the Modi-Yogi schemes across the caste and community divide. UP's electors in 2022 stand at around 19-20 cr.
As per the ECI data, over 12 crore electors took part in the elections in 2022. And over 5 crore electors have voted for the BJP vis-a-vis over 3.8 crore for Akhilesh Yadav led SP.
Now take a look at the BJP beneficiary vote bank.
- 2.5 crore farmers benefitted under PMKISAN scheme
- Of which, around 40 lakh sugarcane farmers received their dues from sugar mills on time.
- Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to over 15 crore families.
- Besides, out of the 15 crore, some 1.67 cr have been given free gas connection.
- Among the 15 crore families, nearly 42 lakh were provided houses under PMAY
A cursory glance at the above data shows when 15 crore families benefitted from the free ration scheme, which then boils down to nearly 6 crore voters in the state of UP who have directly benefitted from the litany of central schemes - from ration to toilet.
The above data clearly shows the voter base of BJP adds up to the around 5 crore voters who have voted for BJP in the 2022 elections.
Like UP, the winning mantra for CM Naveen Patnaik over the years has been the number of beneficiaries. The number of voters in Odisha in 2022 has been around 3.5 crore. And as per the Odisha government's plan BSKY cards will be delivered to 3.5 cr in the days to come.
Moreover, under the NFSA, a total of 3.2 cr beneficiaries avail the benefit of rice at a subsidised price, besides another 12 lakh getting subsidised rice under the Antodaya Anna Yojana. The list of other beneficiaries included 48 lakh getting pensions under the State Pension schemes.
But the rider here is the NFSA scheme which covers almost the whole of the electorate is being funded now by the Central government under the NFSA Act.
As per Union government data, the BJP beneficiary base in Odisha stands at
- PM Garib Kalyan Yojana - 3.01 cr.
- Free gas refill around 83.6 lakh from the 3.01 cr.
- A total of 10 lakh from the 3.01 cr availed PM AWAS Yojana.
- Similarly, around 20 lakh from a total of 3.1 cr received pension from Central govt.
The above data shows that BJP schemes have an outreach to nearly 3 crore households (or 1.5cr voters) in Odisha. But the Panchayat elections show BJP getting votes from nearly 63 lakh voters, whereas BJD taking votes from nearly 1.09 crore voters. In the Panchayat polls, the total electors who participated stood at over 2.1 crore.