UP POLLS: BSP gives most number of seats to Upper Castes; Muslims second

Bahujan Samaj Party has allocated the highest block of candidacies for the upcoming elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly to upper caste Hindus, followed by Muslims.

Announcing the details, party supremo Mayawati said a total of 113 seats — amounting to 28% of the total 403 seats — have been given to candidates belonging to upper caste Hindus.

Out of these, 66 were allocated to Brahmins — coming to around 16.4% of the total seats. Brahmins comprise about 5% of UP’s population.

36 seats went to Rajputs and Kshtriyas, and 11 to other upper castes such as Kayasth and Vaishya.

The total seats allocated to upper caste Hindus is about twice their percentage in the general population in Uttar Pradesh, indicating that Mayawati is very keen on expanding her influence among this section.

Traditionally, upper caste Hindus have preferred to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Indian National Congress.

The second biggest candidacy block has been allocated to OBC or ‘other backward classes’. A total of 106 seats, or  about 26% of the total seats, have been allocated to candidates belonging to various OB communities, Mayawati said.

The proportion of seats allocated to OBCs is roughly half of their actual presence in the state — indicating that Mayawati does not expect much mobilization from the segment this time. OBCs have traditionally voted for the Samajwadi Party, but are also likely to consider the BJP this time as it is led by an OBC both at the center and at the state level.

Dalits and Muslims — the remaining two groups — were given 87 and 97 seats each — largely in proportion to their presence in the general population.

These numbers do not indicate the exact communal thrust of BSP’s strategy, as they don’t reveal which seats each of these candidates have been fielded from.

For example, even if only 87 seats are allocated to Dalits, if they happen to be in areas where BSP has a strong presence, the ultimate number of BSP legislators in the next Assembly from the Dalit community would be higher than is suggested by the modest number of seats allocated.