Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah on Sunday in Lucknow asked National Democratic Alliance (NDA) workers to pledge to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi the PM again in 2024. Mr. Shah was addressing a ‘Jan-Swabhiman Divas’ programme on the 74th birth anniversary of the late Apna Dal founder Sone Lal Patel.
Mr. Shah said the BJP and Apna Dal had “freed the State from the disruptive forces”, hinting at the Samajwadi Party (SP). “BJP and Apna Dal together fought and won four polls. Now, the State is free from the disruptive forces,” he said at the event organised by the Apna Dal (S), a BJP ally, held at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan. The event saw sizeable participation of the smaller partner’s core support base — the Kurmi Other Backward Class (OBC) community.
Mr. Shah said the present Union government had done a lot of work for the OBCs and listed the steps taken to empower them while focusing on increasing their representation in the Central government and in Parliament. “The NDA government headed by Modi-ji consists of the maximum number of Ministers from Backward Classes, the highest since Independence. By giving constitutional status to the Backward Classes Commission, the Prime Minister empowered the backward community. In the last nine years, a lot of work has been done for the backward classes,” he added.
Mr. Shah alleged that during the previous Manmohan Singh government, Pakistani terrorists had attacked India while Mr. Modi had provided a feeling of security to the country and no terror attacks were taking place now due to the fear of “surgical strikes”.
Lauding the efforts of the late Sone Lal Patel, Mr. Shah said the Apna Dal founder’s life had been spent fighting for the welfare of OBCs, Dalits and other deprived sections of society, with his daughter and Union Minister Anupriya Patel following his footprints in taking the party forward.
Ms. Patel leads the Apna Dal (S), a breakaway fraction of the original Apna Dal founded by her father.
The BJP on its own won 62 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, while its smaller, the ally Apna Dal (S), secured two seats. The Apna Dal (S) enjoys the support of the Kurmis of eastern and central U.P., the community to which its founder belonged.
On the occasion, U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Mr. Modi had in the past nine years of his tenure worked for social justice, assimilating the slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas’.
“The dreams of social justice for which Sone Lal Patel fought all his life, Prime Minister Modi made that come true in the last nine years,” Mr. Adityanath said, adding that the Government Medical College in Pratapgarh district had been named after Sone Lal Patel.
“The welfare schemes of the NDA government are being implemented in the country without any discrimination, with depressed sections getting proper benefit, which is a testament of social justice,” he added.
The function was attended by several NDA leaders, also from the BJP, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak; State BJP president Chaudhary Bhupendra Singh; president of the Republican Party of India (RPI) and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale; and Apna Dal (S) leader Ms. Anupriya Patel.
Leader of the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav addressed a seminar on the need for caste census organised by Kamera Chetna Foundation on the occasion of the Apna Dal founder’s anniversary.
Mr. Yadav, sitting alongside Krishna Patel, wife of the late Apna Dal founder and president of Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), pushed for a caste-based census in Uttar Pradesh, stating that proper representation and status for OBCs could be ensured only then.
Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) is the Apna Dal’s other breakaway faction.
“Without counting caste-wise population, the identity of the deprived, exploited class remains incomplete. It is necessary to know which castes are marginalised, and how much education, employment resources, land ownership or prosperity, different caste groups have. Who among the poor is the most marginalised? Who are the homeless people? Who is left most illiterate? Only then can we design the necessary policies for the upliftment of OBCs,” Mr. Yadav said, adding that the BJP-led NDA could not fight the social alliance OBCs, Scheduled Castes and minorities in the 2024 polls.
“The BJP is greedy for power. They want to retain power by taking away the rights of OBCs, Dalits and minorities. But they cannot withstand the alliance of the PDA (‘Pichde‘ or Backward Classes, Dalit, and ‘Alpasankhyak’ or minorities),” the SP leader said.