ThoughOm Prakash Rajbhar, Uttar Pradesh Minister and president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, has just four MLAs under his fold, the OBC leader is an important part of the BJP’s outreach among the most backward castes in eastern U.P. A year after he aligned with the BJP, which stormed to power with over 300 seats, he is today, however, disgruntled with the way the BJP is treating him. Excerpts from an interview in Lucknow:
The Yogi Adityanath government has completed one year and you are constantly complaining that not much has been done for the poor, backwards and Dalits.
The work is only on paper. The officials have completed all work on paper and submitted it to the government, but there is nothing on the ground. For example, the Chief Minister recently said that 11.5 lakh new houses have been built [for the poor]. Such high number of houses can be approved, yes, but how many can be built in just four or five months? The first instalment itself takes six months and during the monsoon, sand and morang are unavailable for construction.
Where is the lapse? The government or the officials?
The officials are solely responsible. They don’t listen to the government. Despite a change in government, it is the same machine that worked during SP and BSP rule that’s operating. The engine and coaches [of the train] are the same, only the driver and guard have changed.
Soon after you met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi, you decided to restore support to the BJP. What assurances did he give you?
I informed Amit Shah that there is anger against the government on the ground. Those entitled to ration cards, toilets, homes and pension are being deprived of it, whereas those ineligible are enjoying all the benefits. During the elections, I campaigned for the sub-categorisation of OBC reservation into three groups: the Pichda (backward), those dominant castes who have got a share more than their population; the Ati Pichda (very backward), who have got a share but not according to their population, and the Sarvadik Pichda (most backward), those who have not got any benefits. One year has passed but the government has done nothing. Mr. Shah told me that there are elections coming up in Karnataka and the OBC sub-categorisation would be implemented a month after that. He also told me that not just at the national level, it would be implemented in the State as well. Meanwhile, I have demanded that till that happens, no new recruitment must take place in the State.
So your main demand is sub-categorisation of the OBC quota?
The V.P. Singh government granted 27% reservation to OBC castes in 1990. But the dominant castes which are literate and cunning, are eating up the major chunk, leaving only tiny crumbs for the weak. Just like the big fish leaves nothing for the small fish. Babasaheb achieved reservation for Dalits in 1932 but even today you won’t find a single constable from the Banspbor, Nat, Musahar, Hela and other such castes in the State capital. The same is for smaller OBC castes such as Bind, Prajapati, Kumhar, Mallah, Chauhan, Pal, Rajbhar, Julha and Dhuniya which have reservation but are not getting its actual benefits.
So is everything all right with you and the BJP now?
Amit Shah has promised to come here on April 10. He will hold a meeting with the CM and people of his organisation to discuss the ground reality. But let me tell you, for a year, the BJP and its government did not give my party the status of a political party. Be it in government functions or meetings, they did not once place a single chair for my party. After I returned from Delhi, for the first time, in the Legislative Assembly party meeting, a chair was put for me next to the CM. Why so? Had I not gone to Delhi, this would not have been possible. And the CM for the first time also had to issue a statement in the Assembly saying that he will divide the OBC reservation. In the presidential election, we also voted but they never thanked my party.
But this time [after the RS voting], they remembered us. Only because I went to Delhi.
What do you think of the SP and BSP alliance? It is being touted as an alliance of Dalits and OBCs.
I believe in the ideals of both Dr. Ambedkar and Lohia. The alliance is absolutely sound.
My movement, our ideology won’t get affected by the BJP or depend on it. It is because of Ambedkar and Lohia that I am here today. I am a product of Kanshiramji. He created lakhs of leaders in every caste, be it backward, forward, Dalit or minority; 70-80% of MLAs roaming in the U.P. Assembly are products of Kanshiram.
If by coming together the SP and BSP fulfil Dr. Ambedkar’s and Kanshiramji’s ideals, then it is a good thing.
Even if BJP, your alliance partner, loses due to it? That means your loss, too.
Yes, I have no problem. I am not indentured to ensure the BJP’s victory (laughs).
If your demands are not met, what will be the future of the alliance? Will you break up before 2019?
How will they not fulfill it? They will have to. There is no question of me breaking the alliance. I have got votes for the BJP.