For the 2022 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has its eyes firmly fixed on the Other Backward Classes (OBC) vote bank.
The party mainly wants to consolidate its Yadav vote base and also other caste groups in the OBC category. The party's focus is evident in its list of 15 district presidents in which eight belong to the Yadav caste.
The party has appointed Yadav leaders as the district chiefs in Basti, Auraiyya, Etawah, Lucknow, Jalaun, Unnao, Kanpur Dehat and Gonda.
Other OBCs in the SP list of the district president include a Gujjar in Saharanpur, Pal in Mainpuri and Maurya in Bareilly. The party has appointed Muslim leaders as district chiefs in Bulandshahr and Ghaziabad.
In Muzaffarnagar, the SP has appointed a Brahmin as district president and a Rajput in the same post in Mathura. The SP decision of focusing on OBCs is apparently to counter the BJP which is making inroads into the OBC.
The BJP list of the district president, announced two days ago, has given prominence to the OBCs and this is a direct threat to the SP, which has been going downhill after Akhilesh Yadav became the chief minister in 2012 and then took over the reins of the party in 2017.
In the 2014, the SP managed to win five Lok Sabha seats and was reduced to 47 in the 2017 Assembly elections. However, win in 2018 bypolls to three parliamentary seats had pushed its number to eight.
In the 2019, the party won only five seats, but three of the family members -- Dimple Yadav (Kannauj), Dharmendra Yadav (Badaun) and Akshay Yadav (Ferozabad) lost the elections.
Another factor that is troubling Akhilesh Yadav is the Shivpal Yadav-led Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) that may not have won any seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but is eroding the SP's Yadav vote base.
It is because of this that the SP has appointed Yadav leaders as district presidents in its strongholds including Etawah, Aurraiya, Kanpur Dehat and Jalaun.
State SP president Naresh Uttam said that the preference had been given to the youth, particularly those who have been active in the student politics. "We are only concerned with leaders in our party and those who strengthen the organisation."