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Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav has claimed that most of the backward people, Dalits and minorities would unitedly back the PDA — Picchde (backward classes or OBCs), Dalits and Alpsankhyak (minorities) — plank of his party in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls due to which the ruling BJP’s “equations and previous formulas” would fail this time.

In a post in Hindi on X, Akhilesh said: “Survey of those who believe in PDA: Overall 90% say– 49% backward people have faith in PDA, 16% Dalits have faith in PDA, 21% minorities (Muslims+Sikhs+Buddhists+Christians+Jains and others+tribals) believe in PDA, 4% backwards of the upper castes have confidence in PDA. (All the above include ‘aadhi abadi’ i.e. women). Most of these 90% will vote unitedly for PDA this time.”

The Leader of the Opposition in the UP Assembly, Akhilesh also claimed, “Due to this (PDA factor), the BJP is neither able to do any math nor make any equation. This is why all the previous formulas of the BJP have failed this time and the BJP has lagged far behind in the selection of candidates. The BJP is not getting candidates at all. No one wants to fight to lose by taking the BJP ticket.”

Akhilesh also gave a slogan, saying “Li hai PDA ne angdai, Bhajpa ki shamat aayi (PDA has set off,

the end of BJP has come)”.

What is PDA?

Festive offer

The PDA (Picchde, Dalits and Alpsankhyak) acronym was first used by Akhilesh in June 2023. He floated this formula as a counter to the BJP-led NDA, claiming on multiple occasions that “PDA hi NDA ko harayega (It will be the PDA which will defeat the BJP-led NDA)”.

The SP’s core vote bank has traditionally comprised of Yadavs and Muslims in UP. The party has however been losing the elections in the state since 2014 — the 2014 Lok Sabha polls (got five out of 80 seats), 2017 Assembly polls (won 47 out of 403 seats), 2019 Lok Sabha polls (got five seats) and 2022 Assembly polls (won 111 seats).

The PDA idea reflects Akhilesh’s aim to expand the SP’s traditional vote bank to encompass Dalits, OBCs other than Yadavs, and minorities other than Muslims. Akhilesh has also said that the PDA would also include “backwards” among forward castes which are traditionally part of the BJP’s vote bank.

Akhilesh’s PDA plan

SP leaders say that the PDA represents a “rainbow coalition of communities” and would be therefore more appealing to the masses, which would help the party’s outreach to a much wider segment of the population.

Some SP leaders say that a section of Dalits has become “disenchanted” with the BSP as “they see

that BSP supremo Mayawati ji does not take on the BJP”. They claim that the Dalit community is looking for an “alternative”, which provides an opportunity to the SP to get them on board.

“Our party chief (Akhilesh) has been hailing B R Ambedkar and other Dalit icons, which signals

that we are trying to reach out to Dalits,” said an SP leader.

“OBCs other than Yadavs are also among our target audience because we want to make them believe that the SP is the only party that can help them in UP. They constitute the highest numbers in terms of population percentage in the state,” the SP leader said. “Muslims are the largest minority, who have always backed the SP,” he said, adding that a larger platform like the PDA would “not only galvanise Muslims but also other minority groups in favour of the SP”.

Akhilesh’s caste census pitch

At his public meetings in recent months Akhilesh has been repeatedly demanding a caste census, maintaining that a caste survey in UP would ensure communities’ equitable share in reservation and government schemes for their development and welfare based on their proportion in the population.

The SP chief has also been accusing the BJP of allegedly making attempts to undermine the reservation regime ensured by the Constitution. These are part of his bids to woo communities like the OBCs and Dalits, which benefit from quota in jobs and education.

SP’s social calculus

While the SP seems to be assured in its expectation that the Muslim community would rally behind it to defeat the BJP, the party needs more than the Muslim vote to pull off a win in UP. Muslims constitute

about 20% of UP’s population and their full backing for the SP in the 2022 polls was a key factor for the improvement of its tally as compared to the 2017 polls.

In the last few elections, the votes of non-Yadav OBCs have played a crucial role in ensuring the BJP’s victory. As per estimates, OBCs constitute about 40-50% of UP’s population. Yadavs make up

around 8-10% of the state’s population. Akhilesh thus needs to expand the base of his party beyond its traditional core supporters, Yadavs, to include other OBC communities too.

Dalits also constitute a sizeable population in UP at around 20%, who have traditionally been the BSP’s

loyalists. Akhilesh has also been trying to reach out to a section of Dalits, who might have got demoralised by the party’s decline over a long period.

BJP and INDIA bloc

While Akhilesh has been trying to champion the cause of the PDA, the BJP seems to be confident that

the UP voters would not “fall for such gimmicks”. The state BJP leaders point out that Akhilesh has tried such claims on multiple occasions but it has not helped him clinch the polls. “SP is harping on PDA, but people of UP know that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has delivered on his promises and will continue to do so,” said a BJP leader.

UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, a prominent backward leader, has repeatedly taken on Akhilesh over his PDA pitch. He recently dubbed the PDA as the “Personal Development Authority”, charging that it was only meant to “benefit Akhilesh Yadav”.

The BJP leaders say that in its campaign for the Lok Sabha polls the party will highlight Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fulfilment of various guarantees including the one to build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya”.

The SP’s task is thus cut out as it gears up to take on the BJP’s juggernaut in the state in the polls. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the SP had fought in an alliance with the BSP, the BJP had again swept the polls, bagging 62 seats as against the SP’s 5 and the BSP’s 10.

The SP has also been facing troubles on the alliance front with its seat-sharing negotiations with its INDIA bloc ally Congress running into turbulence. Despite making some headway in their talks, the leaders of both parties do not seem to be certain that they would eventually contest together as INDIA allies in the state.

By 111 Tech

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