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Gujarat Elections 2022: How BJP is trying to woo OBC voters

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New Delhi, Sep 21: As it did in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is revamping its political strategy to woo sub-groups among OBCs in Gujarat. In the past fifteen days, the BJP has organised series of Other Backward Classes (OBC) conventions from block-level to state-level in a bid to woo the communities that constitute nearly forty per cent of the vote base in the state.

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The state has close to 146 communities listed under the OBC bracket influencing nearly 80 seats in the 186-member assembly.

In the conventions, the BJP leaders including Bhupendra Patel are reaching out to the backward community leaders by explaining the welfare measures of the Modi government and how the central and State BJP governments are working together for development and welfare of the various communities.

Reportedly, the BJP is eyeing on smaller castes from the OBC block and get their support for the ruling party. While the Congress is focusing on the dominate OBC communities like Kolis and Thakors, who dominate over 20 seats in Saurashtra and around a dozen seats in South Gujarat.

On this line, convention has been held for the communities like Mochi (cobbler), barbers, Darji (tailor), blacksmiths, masons, carpenters and others who are non dominant but constituete a few thousand votes in each constituency.

The BJP is wooing the small communites since the opposition Congress is focusing on the dominant OBC castes like Thakors and Kolis, who are traditionally pro-Congress in Saurashtra, North and Central Gujarat regions.

The BJP has initiated several schemes for OBCs, especially for the fishing community in the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions.

OBCs account for over 40 per cent of Gujarat's population, more than three times that of the Patidars. The OBC communities have been almost equally divided between the BJP and the Congress in past elections.

During the 2002, 2007 and 2012 Gujarat elections, the Congress had around 40 per cent of vote share, while the BJP had around 47 per cent vote share.

In the 2017 Gujarat elections, out of 71 seats in which OBC voters have a say, the BJP managed to win only 30 of seats while 41 went in favour of Congress.

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