Soon after Narendra Modi was featured on the cover of Time magazine last month, his media managers went into overdrive saying the Gujarat chief minister was the firstIndian OBC leader to get this distinction.
Surprising this from a former poster-boy of Hindutva who has shunned the caste tag for wider acceptance in the majority community.
But as he faces assembly polls later this year – and aspires for a larger national role later – Modi is clearly positioning himself as an OBC leader for two reasons. First, he is wooing the OBCs to offset a deviant Patel vote-bank. At another level, he is pitching himself against two possible NDA contenders for prime ministership – Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan – both OBC leaders. The strategy makes sense. OBCs constitute about 30% and Patels around 20 % of the population in Gujarat.