On OBC upswing, BJP sends Kayasthas to political irrelevance

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, August 28: Kayastha caste has always carved out a strategic space for its members in the Indian politics. The caste had the high in the Indian politics with Lal Bahadur Shastri becoming the Prime Minister of the Country. But the sheer dominance of the other backward caste (OBC) politics at the national and state levels has sent the Kayastha caste on political margins.

For the caste members, India’s first President Rajendra Prasad remains the top icon for Kayastha members.

From ticket distributions to picking up the ministerial nominees in the states and the Centre, the Kayastha caste finds the community lacking in strong voice at the national level.

The high of Shastri in the Indian politics was somewhat matched by the rise of Yashwant Sinha during the heydays of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre during 1998-2004.

The Shotgun of the Mumbai film industry Shatrughan Sinha too came along to helm Union Ministries in the Vajpayee government. Between the two erstwhile stars of the BJP, Ravi Shankar Prasad also carved out a space for himself by positioning himself in the legal battle over the Ramjanmabhoomi dispute in the courts.

Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Sinha was a Minister of State in the first term of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. He was dropped in the second term of the Modi government.

Yashwant Sinha had been the most vocal critic of Modi since 2014, while he contested against the BJP’s nominee Droupadi Murmu in the President’s election.

Shatrughan Sinha is now a Trinamool Congress MP in the Lok Sabha.

Prasad stayed a bit longer with the Modi government, but was dropped in the second term, while the BJP leaders still speculate on reasons for his axing from the Council of Minister, for he is not given a party responsibility either.

“The Kayastha caste has presence on over 40 Lok Sabha seats in the country spread over in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Modi’s constituency Varanasi alone has over two lakh Kayastha voters,” said a senior BJP functionary.

Incidentally, the BJP is known for its caste craft by which the party slots each caste with representations to address their aspirations.

Yet, Kayastha caste appears to have lost the favour in the BJP.

“From the Central government to the BJP’s rule in UP and MP, there is just one Vishwas Sarang who hails from the Kayastha caste. This is the historical low for the caste despite the fact that the Kayasthas have been the most loyal supporters of the BJP,” said another BJP functionary.

In the Central BJP also, the Kayastha caste has the only saving grace in the inclusion of Om Mathur in the Central Election Committee of the party, while earlier he had been the vice president of the saffron outfit, added the party functionary.

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