Small is big when it comes to electoral politics in caste-ridden Uttar Pradesh where even a minuscule sub-caste becomes a force to reckon with and lesser known political parties representing them seem to be reaping the benefit.
Come elections, these smaller political outfits make their presence felt in a big way as they can influence the outcome in the high stakes elections this time.
These parties also matter for mainstream political parties like BJP and Congress because of the support they enjoy among certain castes.
Little known Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party is forging an alliance in eastern UP with BJP, which is also in talks with Janwadi Party (Socialist), headed by Sanjay Singh Chauhan.
Apna Dal headed by Union Minister Anupriya Patel is already an NDA ally.
Seeking to leave their mark in the cow belt politics, Peace Party, Nishad Party and Mahan Dal are also expected to throw their hats in the rings.
With certain castes and sub-castes likely to leave an imprint on UP politics, it was definitely not out of the blue when Chief Minister recently cleared the file carrying names of 17 Other Backward Castes for inclusion in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list.
While Akhilesh sought to score a brownie point by this move, BSP chief Mayawati sought to checkmate him by trashing the decision as nothing but “election stunt”, though it was her government that had sent the recommendation to the Centre earlier.
The 17 sub-castes which the government wants included in the SC category are Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gauriya, Turha, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar, Dheewar and Machhua.
Though individually each has a very small vote share, yet together, they make up a significant chunk of votes.
OBCs are roughly 44 per cent of UP’s electorate, Dalits 21 per cent, Muslims 19 per cent, and upper castes 16 per cent.
Yadavs, the core of the SP’s base, are numerically and socially dominant among OBCs.
But the 200-odd non-Yadav OBCs together account for over double the Yadav population. They include Kurmis, Koeris, Lodhs, Jats and Sunars, while Pasis and Valmikis are the large groups among Dalits. .