For the forthcoming assembly election 2022 of UP all the political parties are now wooing the Brahmins, who make up for a significant size of electorate. Just ahead of assembly elections in the state, Brahmins have suddenly become the most sought-after community.
Not long ago, Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh were complaining of neglect and oppression. Scores of Brahmins were killed during the BJP’s four-year rule in UP, community leaders had claimed. Even the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey took on a caste colour.
The Congress, SP and BSP are going all-out to woo Brahmins, the community that has felt ‘neglected and oppressed’ under BJP’s Yogi Adityanath govt, and BJP is trying hard to keep them.
Brahmins are considered the tricky voters though, ever seen to be willing to switch sides. They have been largely with the BJP in recent years and that is unlikely to change dramatically in near future.
Brahmins make for a significant size of the electorate — second only to the Jatavs and the Yadavs. Notwithstanding, the strong socio-political history of the community helps create buzz during the election campaign, especially in Awadh and eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh.
On July 23, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati kicked off ‘Brahmin Sammelan’ from Ayodhya. Though the event was later renamed as ‘Seminar in honour of the enlightened class’, it is clearly being seen as the BSP’s attempt to woo the Brahmin voters of the state.
Mayawati’s new game plan is well thought out and not a coincidence. In 2007, the party won a majority on its own by winning 206 out of the 403 seats. At that time, BSP’s candidates list was announced months before the elections, containing a mix of OBC, Dalit, Brahmin and Muslim faces.
To give weightage to her plan Ms. Mayawati has designated Brahmin leader Satish Mishra to lead a special campaign among the community.
As soon as the BSP announced its campaign, the Samajwadi Party tried to push back. Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party too has started its own outreach programme with its set of district-level Brahmin Sammelan (conclave) from August 22. The Samajwadi Party is organising prabuddha sammelans (‘intellectual meetings’, mainly focussed on Brahmins) in several districts.
Its Brahmin leader Abhishek Mishra said the community still remembered the “oppression” faced under Ms. Mayawati’s rule through “false” cases lodged under the SC/ST Act.
In a symbolic gesture towards the community, SP president Akhilesh Yadav offered traditional Hindu prayers at the temple of Lord Parshuram built by one of his party’s Brahmin leaders in Gosaiganj area of the State capital.
Hoardings at the venue sought to establish Mr. Yadav as the preferred choice of the Brahmins for the Chief Minister’s post — “Brahman ka sankalp, Akhilesh hi vikalp (The Brahmins have resolved, Akhilesh is the alternative),” said the hoardings.
Soon after, former BSP MP Rajesh Pandey, who was inducted into the SP, is the father of Ritesh Pandey, current BSP MP from Ambedkar Nagar in East U.P. Other Brahmin leaders from Purvanchal, including BJP MLA from Sant Kabir Nagar, Digvijay Narain Chaubey; BSP MLA from Gorakhpur, Vinay Shankar Tiwari; and his brother, former BSP MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, Bheesma Shankar Tiwari, also joined the SP.
Whereas the Congress is once again engaged in bringing its traditional voter to its side. The most important thing is that all the Brahmins who became CM in UP were under Congress rule. In such a situation, the Congress under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi is trying hard to bring Brahmins with them.
Congress told may soon announce a Brahmin face as the head of its campaign committee for the assembly polls. The party is also exploring the option of projecting a Brahmin chief ministerial candidate. Senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari accused the other parties of mere tokenism towards Brahmins.
“What did the BJP do for Brahmins? What has even the BSP done? Have they appointed a Brahmin CM until now?” he asked. “It is the only the Congress party that has given six Brahmin chief ministers, in luding Kamalapati Tripathi and N.D. Tiwari.”
Congress has made all the Brahmins who became CM. But the question is whether Congress will be able to come to power. In such a situation, how much Priyanka Gandhi can neutralize for the Congress, because UP election is taking a very important turn and all the parties are revolving around Hindutva.
The Congress has been alleging that brahmins have been neglected in the state ever since Yogi Adityanath was appointed as the Chief Minister of the state. For instance, after the killing of Vikas Dubey, Jitin Prasad, who was then a Congress member, had raised his voice for brahmins, a senior Congress leader pointed out to NewsClick.
There was a time when Congress had a grip on the Brahmin vote across UP, but with Rita Bahuguna, Jitin Prasada, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, and Lalitesh Tripathi leaving the party, Congress has lost Brahmin base in Uttar Pradesh. However, from the past few years, Congress has been relentlessly appeasing the Muslim population.
Earlier this week, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, who has been associated with the Congress for over 100 years, decided to quit the party. When asked about the reason behind quitting, he cited that he was sidelined by the party. He said, “When dedicated party workers who stood with the party in hard times are being sidelined, then it is not at all justified to stay in the party,” he said Thursday, adding that it was a tough decision because of the shared history.”
Earlier this year, a prominent Brahmin face of the UP Congress, Jitin Prasada, had also left the party to join the BJP. As per the details by a source, “Team Priyanka”, associates of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who manages her activities in UP continuously sidelined Prasada. This led Prasada to take an exit from the party and join BJP. And, Yogi Adityanath, recently inducted him into his ministry as a cabinet minister.
According to reports, a senior UP Congress leader said, “Congress was the number one choice for Brahmins, but now most of our prominent Brahmins leaders have left the party. We are left with Pramod Tiwari, (his daughter) Aradhana Misra and Rajesh Mishra in the name of Brahmin leaders. Though they have a stronghold in their constituencies, they are promoted as pan-UP leaders.”
Thus, it can be said that the shift in the party’s focus towards wooing OBCs and Muslims is the reason why Hindus have lost their trust in Congress. However, it is too late for the party to resurrect itself in the state as the elections are just a few months away. And it also seems that the Muslim appeasement might not benefit the Congress party because Owaisi led AIMIM and Akhilesh Yadav led SP will grab all the Muslim votes
Ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has formed a 4-member committee to cater to the Brahmin community in the state. The move comes amidst assessments that the Brahmin community in UP is dissatisfied with the ruling party.
The committee head, Shiv Pratap Shukla said “Confusion is being spread among Brahmins by Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) that the BJP is neglecting their community. We will aim to take the work done by the BJP to the public and impress upon them the reality that it is the BJP which has worked for the Brahmins.”
Apart from Shukla, the committee comprises Mahesh Sharma, Abhijat Mishra, and Ram Bhai Morakiya
Uttar Pradesh is slated to go to Assembly polls early next year. Committee member Mahesh Sharma said, “We will form BJP government in Uttar Pradesh again and this time the result will be better than last time”.
The decision to form the committee was taken after discussions with leaders from the Brahmin community in UP along with Union Minister and state in-charge Dharmendra Pradhana and BJP national president JP Nadda.
Recently the BJP inducted Jitin Prasada, a prominent Brahmin leader who was mobilising the community to protest against alleged atrocities. Induction of Jitin Prasad to the Bharatiya Janata Party is also seen as an attempt by the ruling party to woo Brahmins.
In the face of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leading the charge of her party in Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s UP election in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday held a stock taking exercise and strategised to woo the Brahmin community.
The BJP leaders are largely unanimous that the Congress party’s campaign will cut into the Brahmin vote base, which is known to be nursing grievances with the saffron outfit in Uttar Pradesh