The BJP will start ‘Atal sandesh yatras’ throughout the state from Tuesday (December 25), which is former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 88th birthday, to explain the party’s stand on reservations in promotions. Sources here said the party high command had given the green signal for the yatras after realising that it had erred in judging the common man’s pulse on this sensitive issue.
The BJP had voted in favour of the 117th constitutional amendment bill providing for quotas in promotions in the Rajya Sabha recently. The BJP leadership, the sources say, now feels that its support to the quotas could cost it dear in the next Lok Sabha election.
“We want to tell the people that it is because of the BJP that limits have been imposed on the quotas in promotions,” says UP BJP president Dr Laxmikant Bajpayee. “The BJP has fought for the interests of the upper and backward castes. It is because of the BJP’s stiff resistance that the quota would be limited to 22% and administrative efficiency would not be overlooked,” he said.
The UP BJP faced a near-rebellion recently after the party supported the bill in the Rajya Sabha. There were threats of mass resignations, and several senior leaders and MPs had gone public with their opposition to the party’s official stand. The state president, several party MPs, MLAs and senior leaders explained the gravity of the situation to the top BJP brass in Delhi some days ago. It was after this meeting that the idea of ‘Atal sandesh yatras’ was mooted.
After all, it was under Atal’s prime ministership that the Centre had decided to implement reservations in promotions. The BJP now does not want to be seen opposing that decision. At the same time, it also does not want to lose its votebank among upper and backward castes who are opposed to these quotas for obvious reasons.
“The idea is to exploit this situation to our advantage,” said a senior BJP leader involved in supervising the ‘Atal sandesh yatras’. So, the message of the yatras would not be limited to quotas in promotions alone, as the BJP is largely apologetic on the issue. The yatras would also hammer the UPA regime on FDI and other issues, including corruption. At the same time, BJP leaders through these yatras would also take the Akhilesh Yadav regime in UP to task over allegedly ignoring farmers’ interests and on the law and order issue.