Data shows how caste math was a crucial part of a combination of factors that led BJP to a historic second term in Uttar Pradesh.

Caste continues to play a decisive role in Uttar Pradesh politics and any attempt to watch the election verdict in India’s most populous state may be flawed, a study of post-poll surveys shows. Immediately after the election results came out, and Yogi Adityanath secured a second consecutive full term in office as CM, the Bharatiya Janata Party called her victory a death knell for caste politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM-elect Yogi Adityanath attributed the BJP’s victory to its development-oriented policies, calling it a stamp of approval for its model of good governance.

However, caste arithmetic, coupled with the impact of the Center’s welfare schemes, formed an impenetrable combination that the opposition failed to break. According to CSDS-Lokniti post-poll data published by The Hindu, the BJP has not only managed to further consolidate its traditionally loyal upper-caste base, with more than four-fifths of the support from Brahmins , Thakur and Vaishyas. also managed to maintain its recently cultivated support for non-Yadav OBCs, a segment that makes up about 40 percent of the state’s electoral population.

Analysts believe that the social engineering the BJP carried out in 2017 and the social security schemes announced by the government helped the party cement its support among the lower echelons, mainly of the backward classes, and increase its total vote share by 4 percent. enlarge. This increase in the total vote share also includes an increase of 6% among Brahmins, 17% among Thakurs, 12% among Vaishyas, 16% among Jats and 4% among other OBCs.

‘BJP had perfected cabinet calculations in 2017’

“Caste is set in stone in North Indian and UP politics, it cannot be ignored,” said political commentator Amitabh Tiwari, adding that the BJP perfected the state’s caste calculation itself in 2017 and only improved it this time. by merging it with welfare.

While it was believed that Hindutva will be a strategic factor in 2017, the BJP defeated caste-based parties at their own game. 2017 (elections) was not a victory for Hindutva in UP as the verdict (Ram Mandir) was not pronounced then. It was a victory of the innovative social engineering, it was a victory of the small alliances that it did – Apna Dal, SBSP, Nishad Party – and it created the non-Yadav OBC voting bloc,” Tiwari told

“BJP itself had perfected the caste equations in 2017 as the addressable target market was 20% Brahmin, 30% non-Yadav OBCs and 10% non-Jatav. It created the non-Yadav OBC voting bloc that never existed. It includes 76 different caste groups, but the BJP combined the leaders and aspirations of these caste groups, which were previously divided into 30%.” Likewise, the BJP under Dalits created a bloc of non-Jatavs and Jatavs similar in the case of Yadavs. “The BJP itself had 60 percent of that voting bloc in 2017,” he added.

So while this time the Samajwadi party tried to crack down on the BJP over caste comparisons, the ruling party had already taken a step forward by linking its social engineering to welfare, benefiting much of the lower strata of the state.

Sanjay Kumar, co-director at Lokniti-CSDS, agrees that this time the BJP has managed to improve its vote share because of its social security schemes. “These settlements are mainly for the lower echelons of society and there is a huge overlap between the Dalits and the lower OBC – large numbers in the lower strata belong to these two categories. It is because of those social security schemes that the BJP managed to hold onto the lower OBC voter bank; not only did they hold up, but they also increased their vote share among the Dalits. The support of the BJP has grown tremendously, both among the Jatav and non-Jatav Dalits,” Kumar told

‘Labharthis’ and female voters

Labharthis or a group of beneficiaries, a term that has resonated time and again in the BJP’s election campaign, emerged as a new voting bloc in Uttar Pradesh. This consisted mainly of female voters who seem to have rallied behind the party over the past two years because of free rations and an improved law and order situation. The CSDS-Lokniti poll data further shows that the BJP gained a massive 13 percentage points lead over the SP-RLD alliance among female voters. Among male voters, the BJP’s lead over the SP was only 5 percentage points.

This proved to be a major driving force for the BJP as it managed, even if by accident, to convert specific caste groups into labharthis. “Welfare was the icing on the cake for the BJP, which had already cemented a caste voting block they had been given in 2017. This was the reason why the BJP’s vote share increased; non-Jatav and Jatavs voted for the BJP as ‘labharthis’,” said Tiwari.

However, the BJP sees this differently. Speaking to, Mos Skill Development and Muzaffarnagar’s BJP MLA Kapil Dev Aggarwal said these social security schemes were never intended to target a specific voting bank, but to all those who belonged to the poor and backward community. are in power and the people have given us the opportunity to work, then we have our responsibility towards the poor, whom we call ‘labharthi’. We gave them rations, insurance card, health card, toilets, electricity. Since the government gave all of these, it sought votes from them. This should not be seen as give and take,” Aggarwal said.

“There were several others that we knew would not vote for us, we gave them these benefits as well. If we had offered these arrangements for voting only, we would have given to those specific classes that vote for us. Even then we got very few votes from them, but gradually they will understand that this government is working on their improvement,” he added.

BJP Rajya Saya MP Ashok Bajpai also argued that the economic condition of the poor, not their caste, was the factor considered by the government in formulating these schemes. “In providing these welfare schemes, the economic condition of people was taken into account. It is clear that Dalits and other backward communities were the main beneficiaries of these schemes. But the intention was not to tap into a specific voting bank, instead the arrangements were for everyone. Caste was not a predominant factor in providing these welfare schemes,” he said.

Caste was always central

During two months of campaigning and seven-stage elections, the parties focused extensively on issues such as COVID-19 management, law and order, price hikes and peasant protest, reflecting the perception that caste will no longer be a deciding factor in the UP -politics. However, the strategy and selection of candidates by the parties were expressed differently: social engineering was always central. In the run-up to the 2022 election polls, almost all parties including the BJP, SP, BSP and Congress tried to consolidate the OBC community in their favor as this bloc accounts for over 40-45% of the voting population from UP. Not surprisingly, all political parties (including BJP) fielded between 120 and 160 OBC candidates in the state elections.

And the strategy has paid off. The 2022 election results showed that a significant portion of the Jatavs, in addition to the upper caste, non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav SCs, voted for the BJP this time. Jatavs were the traditional core voting bank of the Bahujan Samaj party, which is now decimated with only one seat.

With its non-Yadav OBC vote intact and a new block of Jatav voters added to its basket, this new social combination not only helped the BJP win seats but also increase its vote share by at least 4 percent. However, the party also faced setbacks in some pockets where the main voter of the Samajwadi party – Muslim-Yadav – was the deciding factor. The OBCs emerged as a strong pressure group against the socio-economically strong Yadavs, rallying behind the BJP in 2017. About 58 percent of non-Yadav OBCs had voted for the BJP in previous assembly polls. This figure rose in 2022 when about 65 percent OBCs voted for the BJP, according to the CSDS survey.

Political analysts believe the BJP stepped up its efforts to pursue the OBCs after being hit by a series of desertions by OBC leaders such as Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini. However, the SP was unable to take much advantage of these defectors as Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini lost their respective seats.

BJP alliance with 7 lesser known parties

Not just the selection of candidates, the BJP’s alliances with smaller caste-specific parties show how caste accounting has always been in the BJP’s mind. The BJP, which was seen as a “pro-upper caste” party in the electorally crucial state, recruited seven smaller OBC-specific parties, in opposition to the Samajwadi party’s alliance with the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj party (SBSP) by Om Prakash Rajbhar and Rashtriya Lok Dal by Jayant Chaudhary. until the elections. The idea was clear and simple: to expand the vote share by forging alliances with parties that have their electoral bases in the most backward communities in UP’s Purvanchal region.

The seven minor parties with which the BJP is affiliated are part of the Hissedari Morcha that was formed earlier this year with the aim of giving communities a greater voice, with representation from several OBC groups including Bind, Gadariya, Kumhaar, Dhivar, Kashyap and Rajbhar. These seven parties are: Bharatiya Suheldev Janata Party, Shoshit Samaj Party, Manavhit Party, Bharat Manav Samaj Party, Musahar Andolan Manch, Manavhit Party, Prithvi Raj Janshakti Party and Bhartiya Samta Samaj Party.

While the BJP won 255 of the 403 seats, its allies – Apna Dal (S) and Nishad Party – helped increase the seat share to 273, with the two caste-specific parties taking 12 and 6 seats respectively.

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