As the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections approach, there has been a flurry of activity among political parties. On 19 January, the Apna Dal and the Nishad Party, both regional parties with mainly Other Backward Class constituencies, agreed on seat-sharing at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in Delhi. The BJP’s national president, JP Nadda, tweeted a picture of the meeting and wrote, “Uttar Pradesh mein phir ek baar, NDA 300 paar”—Once again in Uttar Pradesh, the National Democratic Alliance will cross 300 seats. The non-Yadav OBC castes are numerically decisive in the state. In the last decade, the BJP has made deep inroads among these castes.
Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh’s current chief minister, also tweeted to express his confidence that the alliance would help the BJP win two-thirds of assembly seats and form the next government. “Apna Dal has been part of the NDA alliance for a very long time,” Anupriya Patel, the national president of Apna Dal and a union minister, said at a press conference after the Delhi meeting. “Uttar Pradesh needs both social justice and development, and our coalition has proved itself on both these issues.”
Social justice and caste have always been big issues in Uttar Pradesh elections. The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party rose to power and consolidated their positions in the state on the basis of these issues. More than forty percent of voters in the state belong to OBC communities. Of these, a majority are from non-Yadav castes.