Restive UP Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar drops portfolio


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first_imgAfter months of baiting, the BJP’s disgruntled ally in Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Rajbhar, handed back the Backward Class Welfare Department to the Yogi Adityanath government on Thursday, accusing it of neglecting OBCs and discriminating against them. A Cabinet Minister, Mr. Rajbhar will, however, retain the post of Disabilities Welfare Minister, of little political value in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Mr. Rajbhar is the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, an ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The two parties contested together in the 2017 Assembly elections, with the SBSP winning four seats, while additionally transferring its crucial Rajbhar vote for the BJP in Purvanchal. In a letter to Mr. Adityanath, Mr. Rajbhar said there was anger among the OBC community as the BJP government had not implemented the subcategorisation of the 27% OBC quota as per the recommendations of a social justice committee and failed to give scholarships to students from these castes.Mr. Rajbhar also rued that not a single member recommended by him was included in the committee of the Backward Class Panel. “The people of the Backward Castes have a lot of expectations from me but due to the government’s persistent disregard, I am not able to provide them what’s due to them,” said Mr. Rajbhar.The SBSP chief’s muscle-flexing comes a crucial time politically as the BJP faces the challenge of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party in the State.Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma rushed to his residence to apparently appease him. Since Mr. Adityanath is out on tour in Kerala, his office is yet to respond to the resignation. However, the government got to work to publicise work done for the backward community. In a statement issued, the government said that it was working for all sections of the society and that it reflected in the increased budget under its tenure for the welfare of Backward Castes. If the budget allotted for Backward Castes in 2016-17, the final year of the Akhilesh Yadav government, was ₹1,300 crore, after coming to power the Yogi Adityanath government increased it to ₹1,654 crore in 2017-18 and ₹1,889 crore in 2018-19.UltimatumMr. Rajbhar has given the BJP time till February 24 to fulfil his demands, after which he will decide whether to continue the alliance or not. His main demand is the subcategorisation of the 27% quota into three categories as per the report of the panel headed by retired Allahabad High Court Justice Raghavendra Kumar. While the report has still not been made public or tabled in the Assembly despite being sent to the government in October, as per a leaked copy the panel has recommended the split of the 27% OBC quota into three parts: Pichda Varg (Backward Caste), who get 7%; the Ati Pichda (More Backward), who get 11%; and the Atyant Pichda (Most Backward), who get 9%. Rajbhars are a Most Backward Caste. The BJP, however, is in a sticky situation over the report as it clubs Kurmis and Yadavs in the same bracket. While the BJP wants to isolate the Yadavs to polarise the non-Yadav OBC vote against the SP-BSP, it cannot afford to antagonise the Kurmis, who are the main vote bank of its ally Apna Dal, especially in areas around Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.The government has so far remained silent on the report.last_img

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