Social engineering

Ashirwad yatra bares fissures within BJP’s Dhanbad unit | Ranchi News – Times of India

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Sindri: The Jan Ashirwad Yatra conducted by BJP with Union minister of state for education Annapurna Devi as the face of the event has put to the fore the cracks within the saffron party’s Dhanbad unit.
While a group party leaders term it as another attempt at galvanizing the cadres and to keep the flock together, some senior leaders find it as a move to keep them at bay.
Political observers say the yatra is a masterstroke by the party strategists for an image makeover from being a party of upper castes to strengthen its support base among the backward communities, but other senior BJP leaders feel that they are being sidelined so that they do not make electoral moves in the next assembly polls.
Anil Pandey, a political strategist, said, “Glorifying Annapurna Devi, who crossed over to BJP from RJD, over other party stalwarts is a signal that BJP wants to strengthen its support base among the OBC. Most ranks and files of the party were elated when members of the Yadav Mahasabha and other OBC groups welcomed the Union minister in different parts of the district.”
This also became evident when the party leadership made Rita Yadav, the district Mahila Morcha president on Thursday, a day after Annapurna completed her yatra in Dhanbad.
However, Jan Ashirwad Yatra is an initiative undertaken by BJP national president J P Nadda to disseminate the message of the Modi government to the public across the country by involving the new ministers inducted into the Union cabinet last month.
“BJP wants to reap the political mileage after allowing the states to re-engineer the list of OBC castes on their own. Winning over OBCs through social engineering also suits the party interest in countering the increasing discontentment among the upper caste voters like Brahmins and Rajputs who find them being sidelined gradually in the party affairs,” observed Pandey.
Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader requesting anonymity said the party leadership should learn lessons from the past of giving turncoats more importance than the old cadres.
He said, “There is an attempt to project Annapurna Devi as leader of all OBC castes at the cost of the party’s leaders who have remained with BJP through thick and thin. Her supporters have already started propagating her as the next CM candidate of the state.”
Another leader said, “BJP in Jharkhand faces the threat of losing old friends in its attempt to win over newer ones. And it should be prepared to face the music in the ensuing elections.”
The crack within the party is also evident when the party Dhanbad MP, P N Singh, remained indifferent to the yatra. While all big and small party leaders put up hoardings and banners to welcome the yatra and the Union minister, Singh was out of town for eye treatment. Notably, he did not put up any hoarding or banner to welcome the yatra.
In another glaring example of the fissure, former Dhanbad mayor and state party executive committee member Chandrashekhar Agrawal was not invited to the dinner hosted by Dhanbad MLA Raj Sinha in honour of the Union minister.
Party spokesperson Milton Parthsarthy, however, denied that there is any resentment among the party cadres over the yatra. “BJP has its support base among all castes and the Jan Ashirwad Yatra should be seen just like another party programme to stimulate the party cadres,” he added.

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