In BJP organisational polls, backwards win lionís share

For the first time, as many as one-third of the 51 district presidents elected so far in the ongoing organisational elections of the Bharatiya Janata Party in UP are from backward classes.

In the last team, which was dissolved after the Assembly elections, only three of the 90 district presidents were OBCs.

Senior BJP leaders see this as a welcome change, which will help counter the perception that the BJP is mainly a party of upper castes in UP. They hope this will also help the party in the next Lok Sabha elections.

BJP leaders said the change has come because, after 19 years, ground-level party workers got an opportunity to elect their leaders by voting in the organisational elections. In the past elections, district presidents had been nominated by senior leaders.

In many of the 17 districts which elected OBC president, no OBC worker had been nominated as president in the past several elections, they said.

State BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai said the party raised issues of backward castes, but workers of these castes had not been getting opportunities within the organisation because of the practice of nomination.

Bajpai expected that the change would help the party because the elected presidents will feel inspired and work with more dedication. "Nominated leaders used to be loyal to particular senior leaders, whereas elected leaders will work for the party," he said.

Among the 17 districts which have elected OBC presidents are Moradabad Nagar, Moradabad district, Ambedkar Nagar, Amethi, Ghaziabad district, Sambhal, Sant Kabir Nagar, Shahjahanpur and Deoria. Arvind Bharti in Ghaziabad district defeated four non-OBC candidates. Sources said there had been no OBC president in the district from more than a decade.

Balram Yadav has been elected president in Sant Kabir Nagar, where backward workers had never been elected to this post in the past. "Balram Yadav is the first backward president in Sant Kabir Nagar. In the past, only Rajputs and Bhumihars had been nominated as president," said a party leader.

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