The move is directed at strengthening Samajwadi Party’s weakening hold over a section of the OBCs, who have traditionally remained the most deprived lot. Sharat Pradhan reports
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday launched a campaign for conversion of 17 Other Backward Castes to Scheduled Castes.
Flagging off two rath yatras from the SP state headquarters in Lucknow, he took a vow to “fulfil the dream of that section of OBCs who have been struggling to be listed under the Scheduled Caste category.”
These 17 castes were treated among the lowest in the OBC list. Ever since they were categorised at OBCs, they have been struggling to be converted as SCs. “These 17 castes were, by virtue of their menial professions and low economic standing, ideally are suited to be listed under the SC category. We have been urging the central government to give them their due,” said Mulayam while addressing a huge gathering.
Named as 17 pichri jatiyon ki adhikar yatra and Samajik Nyaya rath yatra, the yatras have been sent to different directions across the eastern and western corners of the state. The one heading east was led by Uttar Pradesh Mining Minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, while the one heading west was led by Rajpal Kashyap, chairman of the state fisheries development corporation.
The yatra will continue till December 7 and will be followed by a massive rally in Lucknow on December 14.
The move is directed at strengthening SP’s weakening hold over a section of the OBCs who have traditionally remained the most deprived lot. It is more of posturing to gain their support as a shrewd Mulayam knows well that the Centre won’t pay any heed to any demand with Lok Sabha elections just around the corner.
In his last stint as chief minister, Mulayam had taken steps to give these 17 OBCs the status of SC, but could not manage to get the Centre’s nod.
When Bahujan Samaj Party returned to power in 2007, its chief minister Mayawati reversed Mulayam’s decision. This may have prompted Mulayam Singh Yadav to take up the issue once again.
“These 17 castes are so downtrodden that they deserve to get all the benefits applicable to scheduled castes,” said Mulayam. But the BSP leadership was of the view that Mulayam’s real intent was to get rid of these castes “so that the already privileged Yadavs can get the lion’s share of benefits under the OBC category.”