Various analyses of the election results in the five States late last year—especially Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—have all pointed in the same direction: BJP has a problem on its hands.
In the three crucial Hindi heartland states, the BJP held 69 reserved assembly seats. In the 2018 election, it lost more than half of them.
At least two news stories, one attributed to a BJP internal analysis and the other to an RSS offshoot, have suggested that both the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are deserting the party.
Manish Anand reported in The New Indian Express that if the assembly election reports were to be extrapolated to the general election, BJP would lose 8 out of 10 reserved Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, and all five SC/ST seats in Chhattisgarh.
Overall, BJP had won 67 of the 131 reserved parliamentary seats in 2014.
Similarly, Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi reported in the Hindustan Times, citing the RSS tribal outfit Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, that the “BJP’s inability to counter the perception that it was against caste-based quotas and that it was trying to foist Hindu traditions on tribespeople” had cost it dear.
According to this report, the BJP’s voteshare and seatshare had fallen in all three states in reserved constituencies.
Against this backdrop, will the perceptions caused by the 10 per cent for the amorphous and diffused economically weaker sections help or harm the BJP, notwithstanding its triumphant grand standing?
Is it only going to increase the perception among Dalits and tribals that there is a effort to subsume their identities within the larger Hindu fold?
Kumari Selja, the Congress leader from Haryana and a Dalit, said in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the 10% quota for EWS was an attempt to eventually pave the ground for the eventual abolition of caste-quota, a longstanding RSS demand.
RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat stirred a hornet’s nest when he batted for a review of reservations ahead of the Bihar election. There were many in the BJP who then felt Bhagwat’s comments had cost the party dear.