Both Baby Rani Maurya and Mayawati belong to the dominant Jatav sub-caste, which accounts for more than half of the Dalit community.
With the assembly polls less than five months away, the BJP in Uttar Pradesh has started projecting party national vice-president Baby Rani Maurya, a former Uttarakhand governor, as its Dalit face in the state. The move aims at reaching out to Dalit voters, which form a major chunk of Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party’s vote base. Both Maurya and Mayawati belong to the dominant Jatav sub-caste, which accounts for more than half of the Dalit community.
Of the 21 per cent Dalit vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, Jatavs form a sizeable chunk — about 11 per cent — and this community has been the mainstay of Mayawati’s political journey. Any depletion in the Jatav vote base will spell bad news for the BSP.
In order to project Maurya as the Dalit face, the BJP has been lining up functions to felicitate her, ensuring attendance of people from Scheduled Caste communities. For these functions, the party has also been highlighting Maurya’s Dalit identity, by adding “Jatav” to her name in hoardings and formal communications.
Addressing an event organised by the Awadh region unit of the BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha in Lucknow earlier this month, Maurya said people from SC communities get maximum respect in the BJP. She gave her own example. The BJP made an ordinary party worker like her a mayor, then a governor and now the party’s national vice-president, she said.
She appealed to the gathering to support the BJP in achieving the target of 350 seats in the 2022 elections.
When asked about her Jatav credentials being so prominently displayed, Baby Rani Maurya said, “I was born into this caste. My family was and still is into leather and footwear work. For nearly three decades, I have been with the BJP as a Jatav.”
Associated with the BJP since 1995, Maurya contested the elections for the mayor’s post in Agra and won by a huge margin. In 2002, Maurya became a member of the National Commission for Women.
In the 2007 assembly election, Maurya contested the Etmadpur assembly seat in Agra on a BJP ticket, losing to the BSP’s Narayan Singh Suman. In July 2018, Maurya was made a member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights after the BJP came to power in UP in 2017. She was appointed Uttarakhand governor in August 2018.