NEW DELHI: The controversy over tainted former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha notwithstanding, BJP today indicated it will go all out to woo the OBC voters in Uttar Pradesh by highlighting the loss to them once minorities are given reservation from their quota.
Shedding its initial reluctance over Kushwaha's induction into the party, the BJP top brass appears to have reconciled to the need to win over the OBC along with the upper caste in its bid to get more seats in poll bound UP.
Speaking at a party programme here, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said, "Though BJP has always supported reservations as it helps the weaker sections to become strong, it has always opposed reservations on basis of religion. People of different religions, Hindus and Muslims, all figure in the OBC list."
He stated that BJP is open to making further provisions for Most Backward Classes and those who are socially and educationally backward within this quota but reservation for minorities is not acceptable.
The Centre had cleared 4.5 per cent reservation for the minorities within the 27 per cent quota for OBCs which has antagonised the latter as it will eat into their share.
The letter written by Kushwaha, an OBC leader whose community accounts for 3 per cent of the voters, to BJP President Nitin Gadkari asking for suspension of his membership till he is cleared of all charges seems to have ironed out the differences for the time being.
"Other than the BJP, no party is ready to speak about this.... Constitution does not allow reservation on religious basis. BJP will oppose this throughout the nation. Those whose share is being taken away should be heard," Jaitley said.
Jaitley alleged that while BSP and SP have divided the people of UP on caste lines, the Congress-led Central government is dividing them on lines of religion.
Aware that the minorities are not likely to vote for it, BJP is eyeing the upper caste and non-Yadav OBC voters in UP. The Lodhs, Kushwahas, Mauryas, Koeris and Kachhi OBC castes constitute more than nine per cent of the voters in the state. BJP has given tickets to several Lodh candidates and has Uma Bharti as one of its star campaigners from the caste.
Jaitley also took digs at the Congress for its strained relations with ally TMC and how the party was now looking towards SP and BSP for a future alliance in UP and at the Centre to save its government.
"Some people felt that TMC opposed the UPA government on issues of FDI, Pension Bill, Lokpal and other issues to gain popularity. But when the name of a bhawan (building), named after Indira Gandhi, is changed it cannot be done to get any popularity for TMC. This is the beginning of the end of a relationship," he said.
He added that now the UPA allies want to distance themselves from a government which is losing its popularity.
"Naturally the government will not lose power if allies leave. It will get into the exercise of getting new allies. In UP, Congress has gone into a search for a new ally.... It is looking into the possibility of who between SP and BSP can be its ally," Jaitley said.