OBC Kushwaha votes on mind, BJP to mark Ashoka’s birth anniversary on April 8

With OBC Kushwaha votes on mind, the Bihar BJP is all set to celebrate 2327th birth anniversary of emperor Ashoka, who is said to have ruled most part of the Indian subcontinent between 268 BCE and 232 BCE. It is the BJP that first started organising birth anniversary of the Mauryan king in 2015.

This year, the party will mark his anniversary on April 8 — the eighth day of Hindi month of Chaitra. It is organised as per Hindi calender. UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav will attend the function. Though historians differ on the exact date or year of Ashoka’s birth, BJP claims it is going to be the Mauryan king’s 2327th birth anniversary.

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Ratnesh Kushwaha, BJP state working committee member and coordinator of the function, told The Indian Express that Bihar Panchayati Raj Minister Samrat Choudhary (a Kushwaha) flagged off chariots to 10 districts to create awareness on importance of emperor Ashoka, who first gave the concept of Akhand Bharat. The districts where the BJP chariots would move across include Nalanda, Vaishali, Samastipur, Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, East Champaran and West Champaran, having sizeable population of OBC Kushwaha population.

Ratnesh Kushwaha said while pre-recorded message on the importance of Ashoka would be played by these chariots, handbills would also be distributed among people to spread awareness about Ashoka as the “national hero” of ancient India. BJP has a sizeable number of Kushwaha leaders and has long been trying to cultivate this constituency.

Koeri and Kushwaha, often called Luv-Kush in political lexicon, are about nine per cent (three per cent Kurmis and six per cent Koeris or Kushwaha) and dubbed core constituency of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. With former MP Upendra Kushwaha merging his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party with JD(U) in March 2021, JD(U), and in turn NDA, looks for Luv-Kush votes consolidation. JD(U) would celebrate Ashoka’s anniversary on April 9.

For the last few years, Ashoka is being used as political mascot in Bihar politics and taken as “symbol of OBC assertion and national icon” from among non-upper castes.

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