The quota row touched off by a senior RSS functionary’s remarks has sparked concerns in the BJP over its fallout in the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly polls with party leaders terming the comments “ill-timed”. It was the party top brass which swung into action soon after RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya’s remarks went on air and alarmed it. It played a role in persuading the Hindutva organisation to issue clarifications immediately.
The controversy, which started after Vaidya made comments seen to be favouring a review of reservation, is reminiscent of a similar row ignited by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks during the Bihar assembly polls in which the saffron party suffered a humiliating drubbing.
Opposition parties, including Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, have latched on the issue to paint BJP as “anti-reservation” and the issue threatens to derail the saffron party’s strategy of keeping planks of development and demonetisation at the centre of campaign.
You may also like to watch this
“Obviously, we are unhappy. RSS has already clarified it but we would never like reservation as a poll issue. It never benefits us. We will have to see how it pans out and plan accordingly. Vaidya’s comments were ill-timed and unwarranted,” a party leader from Uttar Pradesh said.
Another leader said both SP and BSP will now use it to poach on the other backward castes, who the party believes are willing to bet on it again as they did during much of 90s but drifted away later.
BSP supremo Mayawati could use the row to “scare” away those Dalit voters who might have voted for BJP in several constituencies to defeat SP, a party leader.
However, several leaders added that it is too early to comment if the controversy will have a real impact on poll and were at pains to explain that UP is different from Bihar in a number of ways.
‘Mandal’ (quota) has more resonance in Bihar, which has more OBC dominance demographically and is moor rural and poor compared to UP, they said.
They also pointed out the damage control exercise from RSS was swift yesterday as Vaidya immediately issued clarification and held a late night press conference to make it clear that the organisation supports reservation.