Top BJP leaders from across the country, including Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and party president Amit Shah, would be descending on the city in the next couple of days to attend a two-day convention of its OBC Morcha, aimed at securing a foothold among the sizeable Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the general election.
OBC have been a decisive factor in the politics of Bihar, a state where the BJP has been hamstrung on account of a pro-upper caste image.
The two-day national conference of the BJP OBC Morcha is scheduled to be inaugurated on Friday by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in presence of leaders like the partys national general secretary in-charge for Bihar Bhupendra Yadav, state president Nityanand Rai, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Chief Minister of the neighboring Jharkhand, Raghubar Das.
The inaugural session will be followed, later in the day, by a thanksgiving resolution presented by Lok Sabha MP Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav, wherein the Narendra Modi government will be lauded for grant of constitutional status to the OBC Commission.
The Madhubani MP, who has announced that he was hanging his boots and will not contest elections any more, was recently conferred with the third highest civilian honour Padma Bhushan in a move viewed as the ruling BJPs attempt to endear itself to the Yadav community the most populous in Bihar which has traditionally been aligned with Lalu Prasad's RJD - a Congress ally.
The Congress had played a crude joke on the OBCs by setting up the Commission but rendering it toothless. This has been the character of Congress about matters relating to social justice. The party had opposed implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations too, state BJP vice-president Samrat Chaudhary and senior party leader and state minister Prem Kumar said in a statement.
The conclave will conclude on Saturday with BJP national president Amit Shah as the chief guest and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and the party's national vice-president Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan among those in attendance.
The convention will also be attended, among others, by Union ministers Uma Bharti, Dharmendra Pradhan, Santosh Gangwar, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Krishan Pal Gujjar and Uttar Pradesh Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya.
With the high-stakes Lok Sabha polls expected to commence in about a month, the BJP is faced with the uphill task of winning over OBCs, who appear upset with the Narendra Modi government over the amendments in the SC/ST Act on one hand and the 10 per cent quotas for the poor among the unreserved category on the other.
The challenge is going to be particularly daunting in Bihar, where the party is yet to come of its own, owing its growth in a great measure to its alliance with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself a powerful OBC leader.
Although the party had succeeded in putting up a stellar show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which it fought sans Mr Kumar riding the PM Modi wave, the assembly polls a year later proved to be a reality check as the NDA was trounced by the Mahagathbandhan which had come into being with the Chief Minister tying up with RJD and the Congress.
Cold vibes between Mr Kumar and PM Modi which have been a stuff of political legend notwithstanding, the BJP seized the opportunity for realignment when the JD(U) leader began feeling uncomfortable in the Mahagathbandhan and the two parties were back as alliance partners, with Ram Vilas Paswans LJP also on board.
Although the NDA looks formidable on paper in Bihar, the alliance is wary of the emotive issue of reservations boomeranging on it during elections.
That the opposition, especially its largest constituent RJD, will play the quota card to the hilt had become clear when its de facto leader Tejashwi Yadav named his recent tour of three districts Arakshan badhao yatra (increase reservations) unlike his previous public interaction programmes when he spoke of Samvidhan Bachao (save the Constitution).
In an apparent acknowledgement of the challenge that lies ahead, Nitish Kumar had stated Wednesday on the floor of the state assembly that he too was in favor of raising the 50 per cent cap on quotas but added that a thorough, caste-based census in 2021 was necessary for this.
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