The Bharatiya Janata Party has planned to expand its base among the Yadavs, Jatavs and Pasmanda Muslims as part of its strategy to win all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the 2024 general election.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and former state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya had also dropped a hint in a recent tweet, saying Yaduvanshi (Yadavs), Ravidasiyo (Jatavs) and Pasmanda Muslims will be brought closer to the BJP so that the lotus 'blossoms' in every booth in UP.
After the party's victory in the Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had claimed that it will win all 80 seats in next general election.
While OBC Yadavs and Muslims form the Samajwadi Party's 'MY' vote bank, Jatavs have been siding with the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati so far.
SP's national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary trashed Maurya's assertions and said his party doesn't believe in politics of casteism.
"Our ideology is based on socialism and social justice," Chaudhary told PTI.
Sources in the BJP said the party has planned to launch a comprehensive mass contact campaign to reach out to Yadavs, Jatavs and Pasmanda Muslims in course of its 'Tiranga Yatra' week from August 11 to 17.
Of 1.70 lakh booths in the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, the BJP feels it has comparatively lesser influence on 22,000.
According to sources, most of these booths are dominated by Yadav, Jatav and Muslim voters.
They said on state secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal's instruction, BJP MPs and MLAs had recently undertaken mass contact programmes to increase the party's footprint.
The BJP has 64 MPs from Uttar Pradesh while its ally Apna Dal-Sonelal has two.
The BSP has 10 MPs while the Samajwadi Party's tally came down to three after it lost Azamgarh and Rampur seats to the BJP in the bypolls held recently.
Sonia Gandhi is the sole MP of the Congress. She represents the Rae Bareli seat.
According to experts, Yadavs form 11 per cent of the UP's population.
Dalits are around 21 per cent of the population and Muslim's presence is estimated at 18 per cent.
Among the Dalits, Jatavs are numerically strong.
Seventeen Lok Sabha seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes in UP.
Yadav and Muslim voters decide in 10 Lok Sabha constituencies each.
A senior BJP leader Santraj Yadav told PTI that a 'majority of the Yadavs no longer want to stay with the SP while they don't see any hope in the Congress and the BSP is not of their liking'.
"So, the BJP is the best option for them where they are getting better opportunities and importance," he said.
Yadav, who is also the chairman of the UP state cooperative bank, pointed to the BJP sending Sangita Yadav of Gorakhpur to the Rajya Sabha and Subhas Yadav of Sant Kabir Nagar to the state legislative council and the victory of Dinesh Lal Yadav 'Nirahua' from Azamgarh in the bypolls to prove his point.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spared time from his busy schedule to virtually attend a programme held to mark the 10th death anniversary of Harmohan Singh Yadav in Kanpur on July 25.
Harmohan Singh Yadav had served as the president of the Yadav Mahasabha. His son Sukhram Singh Yadav, a former Rajya Sabha MP, lavishly praised the PM.
Sukhram's son Mohit Yadav has already taken the membership of the BJP.
SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav had joined the BJP on the eve of the assembly elections while senior socialist leader Shivpal Singh Yadav is at odds with his nephew Akhilesh.
His proximity to the BJP was clearly visible in the recent presidential elections where he voted for NDA's candidate Droupadi Murmu.
The BJP is also giving prominence to Jatavs.
Changing its track, the BJP, which earlier gave more importance to Kori, Dhanuk, Khatik and Passi sections among the Dalits, concentrated on the Jatavs in the assembly polls.
Former Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya after winning elections was made a cabinet minister in the current UP government led by Yogi Adityanath.
She earlier served as Agra mayor, where Jatavs have sizeable presence and BSP supremo Mayawati often launches her poll campaign from this region.
A leader of the state BJP SC morcha said, "Our interest is safe in the BJP only. The double dose of ration during the coronavirus pandemic, houses and Rs 5 lakh medical cover have been provided to everybody by the Modi government. In Modi rule, nobody sleeps hungry."
The BJP is also trying to win over Pasmanda Muslims. The party gave place to Danish Azad Ansari in Adityanath's cabinet. He has been made the minister of state for minority affairs.
Mohsin Raza, the lone Muslim minister in the previous term, is a Shia.
Post-poll surveys indicated that the BJP's vote share among Muslims rose to 8 per cent, one per cent rise vis-a-vis 2017 election.
State BJP minority cell chief Basit Ali told PTI, "There are several beneficiaries from Muslims in welfare schemes launched by the Modi government. The party is in touch with them."