BJP Launches 'Jagar Yatra' Amid OBC Resonance

The 'Jagar Yatra' represents a crucial political maneuver for the BJP, as it navigates the intricate landscape of OBC and Maratha politics in Maharashtra, aiming to strike a delicate balance to maintain its electoral stronghold in the state.

BJP Launches 'Jagar Yatra' Amid OBC Resonance

Maharashtra BJP has launched a 'Jagar Yatra' across the Vidarbha district, and the timing couldn't have been more serendipitous. Commencing from Sevagram in Wardha on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, this rally coincided with the release of the Bihar caste survey report, revealing that OBCs constitute a substantial 63% of the state's population. This revelation has added urgency to the calls for enhanced OBC representation.

Strengthening OBC Credentials Amid Maratha Reservation Debate

The BJP aims to bolster its OBC credentials with the 'Jagar Yatra,' all while navigating the delicate balance between OBC demands and the growing clamor for Maratha reservation. Vidarbha, which will be the focal point of this yatra, is home to a significant OBC population, making it a critical battleground for the party's political ambitions.

Promoting Government Welfare Schemes

The 'Jagar Yatra' is set to traverse all 11 districts of Vidarbha, encompassing 10 Lok Sabha and 62 Assembly seats. Leading this initiative will be Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule, acknowledging the substantial influence of OBCs in Vidarbha. Chandrashekhar Bawankule, state BJP chief, emphasized the yatra's purpose as reaching out to the people of Vidarbha and informing them about the government's welfare schemes and programs designed to uplift OBCs. The BJP intends to showcase its commitment to the holistic growth and development of OBCs through these initiatives.

Filling the Maratha Leadership Void

However, the BJP's move comes in the midst of a complex Maratha reservation debate. Activist Manoj Jarasange Patil's indefinite fast and a crackdown on quota-seeking protesters have thrust this issue back into the spotlight. The government's proposal to issue Kunbi certificates to Marathas, enabling them to access OBC benefits, has sparked counter-protests by OBCs. While OBCs constitute a significant voting bloc for the BJP in Maharashtra, the party lacks prominent Maratha leaders. Collaborations with Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar-led NCP have been attempts to address this gap, as both leaders are influential within the Maratha community.

Expanding the 'Jagar Yatra'

Following the Vidarbha leg of the yatra, the BJP is contemplating a second phase in the Marathwada region, with details currently in development. Bawankule reiterated the BJP's commitment to preserving the existing OBC quota in Maharashtra and dispelling any misconceptions. The party seeks to reassure OBCs of its dedication to their cause.

BJP's Strategic OBC Outreach

The BJP's strategic outreach to OBCs in Maharashtra dates back to the 1980s when party ideologue Vasantrao Bhagwat advocated for reaching out to the Mali, Dhangar, and Vanjari communities to shed the BJP predecessor Jana Sangh's image as a "trader" and "upper-caste" party. The BJP's concerns over the Maratha issue compound its challenges in Vidarbha, where its support has seen a decline. In the 2014 polls, the BJP secured 44 of the 62 Assembly seats and six of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the region. However, in 2019, these numbers dropped to 29 Assembly seats and four Lok Sabha seats. One prominent reason was attributed to the discontent among the OBC Teli community due to a denied ticket to Bawankule.

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