Is this going to be the biggest counter strategy of Modi/Shah ahead of 2019?

BAGHPAT: Eyeing a significant political constituency, PM Narendra Modi on Sunday made a strong pitch for a quota within quota for most backward OBCs (MBCs), saying the government wanted this numerically large but splintered section of backward castes to benefit more from reservation policies.

Referring to a panel set up to examine the eligibility of MBCs to access a sub-quota within the 27% quota + carved out for OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions, Modi said, “The government wants the most backwards in OBCs to benefit more from reservation within the given limit. We have formed a commission to look into subcategorisation of OBCs.”

The move has been in the works for a while and received added momentum after BJP won a handsome victory in the 2017 UP assembly polls — winning 312 of 403 seats on its own and totalling 325 with allies (the number has reduced by one due to the death of an MLA). The impressive performance in UP assembly election + was seen to be strongly aided by the support of the numerous MBCs who backed Modi and BJP.

The PM’s MBC pitch, the first time he has referred to it, will be part of BJP’s calculations for the 2019 elections where the gambit may pay dividends in UP and Bihar in particular.

The context in UP is crucial as BJP is likely to face a Samajwadi Party-BSP alliance and the saffron outfit will need to up its game to take on the caste champions. As he has done before, Modi blamed Congress for stalling a legislation intended to make the OBC commission on a par with the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

 

The most backward castes account for an overwhelming part of the OBC population. However,they are heterogeneous and have been unable to leverage their numbers into political representation. Poor and socially and educationally backward and often lacking concerted political clout, they have not been able to take advantage of quotas which have been cornered by the more advanced among backwards. Lately, however, they have tended to band together to vote for parties which have been vehicles of dominant castes.

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