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The difficulty of being Rakesh Rathore, or why the BJP’s caste coalition in UP is rocky

Leaked phone conversations of a BJP MLA speak the truth behind the Yogi government’s PR.

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Leaked phone conversations are a breach of privacy, and as such their contents should not be part of public discourse. Yet, the leaked phone call audios of a BJP lawmaker in Uttar Pradesh has gone viral on WhatsApp — so viral that the ruling party couldn’t look the other way and served him a showcause notice.

Who leaked these calls is a deep mystery. Since they are all him talking to different people, they have all been leaked either from his phone’s recording app or by someone tapping his phone. The showcause notice to him suggests he is suspected of leaking them himself — or was it some trigger-happy aide?

The calls have been reported in the media for their shock value of a BJP MLA allegedly criticising and ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of making people clang pots and pans and clap during the coronavirus crisis. But that’s not the most interesting thing in these calls.

What stands out is the helplessness of a BJP MLA in a system that has centralised all power in the hands of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. And behind this angst is caste: Rakesh Rathore is from a lower OBC community and feels the BJP system in UP is concentrating power in the hands of Brahmins and Thakurs.

Also read: BSP’s ‘Sarvajan’ slogan has been usurped by BJP. Mayawati should worry

Just like Ram Rajya

It’s not as if the chief minister doesn’t reach out to the MLA to hear what he has to say. He does. But he does so in such a mechanical, apolitical way that it has no meaning.

In one of the leaked audios, Rathore, who is a BJP MLA from Sitapur (sadar), allegedly gets a call from a junior official in Lucknow. The official says the CM wants to know if ration and essential supplies are in order in the MLA’s area. The MLA replies to this with sarcasm, but the official does not get the sarcasm, or can’t show he does.

“Very good, bhai sahab, very good, very good, very good, very good, very… just like Ram Rajya,” Rathore is heard saying. He doesn’t let the official speak much, just keeps saying ‘very good’ and ‘Ram Rajya’. He tells the official to write, “Things are so good it is as if the rule of Lord Ram has come”.

“The public is so happy, god, god, god. The supplies are much in excess, zabardast! No shortage. It is the rule of Ram. Just like what we have read about the rule of Ram, it is just like that! Ram Rajya has come! Everything is great, at its best. There’s nothing more I can say to praise,” Rathore goes on.

Also read: Indians vote on caste, religion because they lack information on MP, MLA performance: Study

‘The lie of Manuwad’

But what is the reason for such angst? We get the answer in the next call. This is a call Rathore receives allegedly from Delhi, from a Pandit Braj Mohan, who says he is a senior official of the Delhi BJP. Mohan greets Rathore with “Jai Shri Ram”, to which Rathore replies with a curt “Namaste”.

‘Panditji’ wants ‘Rathore sahab’ to help an uncle of his in a neighbouring district get a travel pass amid the lockdown.

MLA Rathore: “You think anyone listens to us MLAs here?”

‘Panditji’: “They will.”

MLA Rathore: “You make them listen to me.”

Funnily, ‘Panditji’ says he first called a BJP MP to get the pass for his uncle. The MP said, speak to MLA Rathore. MLA Rathore points out the absurdity of it all: if the MP can’t get you a travel pass, how can the MLA?

MLA Rathore proceeds to explain that he’s been locked at home for 20 days now, since the police won’t even let his driver reach his house so that he can visit his constituency and see how his constituents are doing amid a pandemic and a lockdown.

The police couldn’t care less when the driver told them he works for the MLA and has been summoned by Rathore.

This is not a surprising or unheard of story. The centralisation of power in the chief minister’s office is more extreme in UP than perhaps in any other state. It’s so bad that some months ago, a BJP MLA publicly protested against his own government. He was also OBC.

MLA Rathore then berates the Delhi BJP official on losing the Delhi state assembly election. ‘Panditji’ says it was poor ticket distribution. MLA Rathore disagrees. He says there were two reasons: “Panditapa ka ghamand aur Bhajapa ka jhoot (Brahminical arrogance and the BJP’s lies)”.

This is where the penny drops: MLA Rathore is full of caste angst. His surname Rathore might suggest he is Rajput/Thakur but he is actually Teli, an OBC community — incidentally, the same as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s caste.

MLA Rathore is heard saying the BJP’s big lie is that it wants to establish Manuwadi Brahmin Raj, and for this, it keeps lying to others. The “lies” make Dalits and OBCs vote for the BJP, he alleges. When this lie becomes apparent, the BJP loses. This, according to him, is what happened in Delhi and Jharkhand assembly elections recently.

“I may be a Teli but I was born in this country, that’s why I belong here,” he says. “It’s your fault,” he says to ‘Panditji’. “You didn’t urge Lord Brahma to stop the birth of Telis. Only Brahmins should be born.”

‘Panditiji’ says reassuringly, “You are a Rathore.”

The MLA clarifies, “Teli, Teli. Haven’t you heard of Telis? In the Ramayana?”

Also read: Yogi Adityanath was given BJP’s third-most important position. And the results are in

‘My people are trapped in darkness’

In a third call, someone wants MLA Rathore to write a recommendation for a gun licence. The MLA says he will write the letter but it won’t be of any use, since the administration does not value his words. Since the person asking for the recommendation is also from an OBC community, MLA Rathore says he won’t get the licence. “If you were a Pandit or Thakur your work would be done,” he purportedly says.

That’s when MLA Rathore proceeds to make fun of the clanging of pots and pans. His point to the fellow OBC caller is that the lower castes are being fooled by the BJP, merely being used for propaganda and not getting anything out of it themselves.

A fourth call is with another Teli politician of the BJP, whom MLA Rathore berates for not thinking of the poor Telis whose suffering won’t be alleviated by banging thalis. “My people are trapped in the darkness without knowledge. What’s happening with us has been happening for thousands of years in this country. Thanks to the mindset of people like you, our daughters used to be made Devdasis….”

The anguish of Rakesh Rathore is not merely the anguish of lockdown or someone being sidelined by the party leadership. It is the growing discomfort of OBCs in the BJP at the perceived upper-caste domination of the party and the government.

The BJP has created a dominance in UP politics that seems invincible. The elections of 2014, 2017, and 2019 showed that the numerical strength of the BJP’s social engineering of bringing upper castes and the OBCs together is formidable. But like all caste coalitions, it is more political than social. Hindutva and Modi may not be enough to keep it going forever. At some point, in 2022 or 2042, the anguish of Rakesh Rathore will create a new politics.

The author is contributing editor to ThePrint. Views are personal.

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  1. Avatar अरविंद कुमार शाह नाथनगर भागलपुर बिहार सा राष्ट्रीय संगठन मंत्री अखिल भारतीय तेली महासभा

    उत्तर प्रदेश के सीतापुर विधानसभा के माननीय विधायक श्री राकेश राठौर जी का ऑडियो जनहित में जारी होने के बाद भाजपा में खलबली मचना स्वाभाविक है क्योंकि भाजपा समझ रही है कि हमारी जो सरकार बनी है वह सिर्फ और सिर्फ तेली बनियां के बोट से बनी है माननीय विधायक तेली समाज से आते हैं श्री राठौर जी का अपनी ही सरकार के विरुद्ध बोलना लाजमी और लाचारी हो गया होगा क्योंकि जब अपनी ही सरकार में विधायक मंत्री को बोलने का अधिकार समाज के हित में कुछ करने का अधिकार ना हो तो और आम जनता के लिए और कठिन ही होगा वास्तव में माननीय विधायक जो कुछ भी कहा है वह सही प्रतीत होता है क्योंकि भाजपा की सरकार चाहे देश में हो या प्रदेश में अधिकतर ठाकुरों एवं ब्रह्मनों का ही चलता है दूसरे कमजोर जाति के विधायक या मंत्री का कोई सुनने वाला भी नहीं है भाजपा सरकार में पिछड़ी जाति के शीर्ष नेता श्री नरेंद्र मोदी को आगे करके बनिया एवं तेली के सारे वोट पर कब्जा जमा लिया है जबकि पूरे भारतवर्ष में बनिया समाज का तेली समाज सहित 25 परसेंट से अधिक वोटर्स है कमजोर राजनीति भागीदारी के रूप में इन्हें 2:00 पर्सेंट भीटिकट नहीं दिया जाता है और जिसकी संख्या दो पर्सेंट है उसे 25 परसेंट से ज्यादा टिकट दिया जाता है यही सच्चाई है भाजपा की यही कारण है कि हमारा वैश्य समाज हर दृष्टिकोण से कमजोर है क्योंकि इसकी राजनीति में भागीदारी नहीं के बराबर है जिससे कोई भी जाति इस समाज को कोई वैल्यू नहीं देता है यही कारण है कि हमारे राठौर साहब कमजोर प्रतीत होते हैं हम अपने वैश्य समाज से आग्रह करना चाहेंगे कि देश आजादी का 73 साल पार कर चुका है अब जगने की जरूरत है सत्ता में भागीदारी के लिए हम सब को एकजुट होकर अपने हित की रक्षा के लिए वोट डालने की जरूरत है तभी हम और हमारा समाज हर दृष्टिकोण से सशक्त बन पाएगा अन्यथा हम सबों को कमजोर से कमजोर जाति के लोग भी इस समाज पर प्रहार करते रहेगा हमारे समाज के इस दोष को दूर करने के लिए अग्रणी भूमिका के रूप में माननीय विधायक राकेश राठौर जी का आवाज को बुलंद करना होगा जय हिंद जय तेली समाज जय वैश्य समाज

  2. Avatar अरविंद कुमार शाह नाथनगर भागलपुर बिहार राष्ट्रीय संगठन मंत्री अखिल भारतीय तेली महासभा

    उत्तर प्रदेश की टेलीग्राफ समाचार से मालूम हुआ की बीजेपी के ओबीसी लीडर माननीय राकेश राठौर जी सीतापुर से एमएलए भी है और तेली जाति से आते हैं भाजपा में असहज महसूस कर रहे है माननीय राठौड़ जी जो भी ऑडियो में बोले हैं खासकर मुझे सही प्रतीत होता है वास्तव में बीजेपी में ठाकुरों और ब्रह्मनों का ही चलती है उनके बिना बीजेपी में एक पत्ता तक नहीं हिलता है भारत के जिस राज्य में बीजेपी का शासन है हर जगह वही स्थिति बनी हुई है जो भाजपा सरकार तेली जाति और वैश्य समाज के बहुसंख्यक वोट से सत्ता में आई है उसी पर प्रहार कर रही है यदि वैश्य समाज भाजपा को वोट नहीं करती तो सत्ता में आने का कोई सवाल ही नहीं उठता है क्यों कि पूरे भारत में मात्र तेली जाति की 8 परसेंट और कुल वैश्य समाज के उप जातियों को मिलाकर 25 परसेंट वोट है यही कारण है इस समाज के लोगों को राजनीति में भागीदारी बीजेपी द्वारा नहीं दिया जाता है इस समाज के लोगों को वोट बैंक के रूप में इस्तेमाल कर रही है हमारे प्रधानमंत्री जी भी तेली जाति से ही आते हैं परंतु तेली जाति को सम्मान देने में सबसे पीछे हैं जिस जाति के वोटरों की संख्या 2 परसेंट है उन्हें 25 पर्सेंट सत्ता में भागीदारी मिली हुई है और जिस की संख्या 25 परसेंट है उसे दो पर्सेंट की भी भागीदारी नहीं मिली है इससे स्पष्ट होता है इस समाज का राजनीतिक शोषण और दोहन हो रहा है इसके लिए हमारे समाज के ही लोग सबसे ज्यादा दोषी है बीजेपी में समाज के अग्रणी नेता श्री नरेंद्र मोदी जी को आगे लाकर प्रजातंत्र के शक्ति रूपी वोट को कौड़ी के भाव में बटोर कर सत्ता रूपी ताकात हासिल करने में सफल हुए हैं पूरे भारत के तेली जाति और सभी वैश्य समाज के उप जातियों को एकजुट होकर सत्ता में मजबूत भागीदारी के लिए माननीय राकेश राठौर जैसे एमएलए की आवाज को बुलंद करना होगा तभी हम सभी राजनीतिक रूप से मजबूत हो सकेंगे 73 वर्ष के आजादी के बाद भी हमारा समाज गुलामी की जंजीर से जकड़े हुए नजर आते हैं इस जंजीर को हम सबको मिलकर तोड़ना पड़ेगा तभी हमारा समाज स्वतंत्र हो पाएगा जय तेली समाज जय वैश समाज

  3. Ha ha , same is the state in Haryana . MPs and MLAs are powerless . Power is concentrated in the hands of Khattar , Barala and Dushyant Chautala . Public is clueless as to whom to aporoach . In the bargain , the bureaucracy is having a field day . They dont bother about others and there is no rule of law. Lesser the said better it is ! Jai hind , jai Bharat .

  4. There was news in news paper that ‘Brahmin Shoes’ are made in America, like that of ‘Bata Shoes’ in India, but how ‘Americans white people’ have taken ‘Brahmin community’ name from India to make ‘Brahmin Shoes’.

  5. Thug chokidar Pradhan Sevak considers himself as saviour of India Thug chokidar allows only to Mahathug chokidar Tadipar to collect BLACK money for party & his Prince.

  6. ” Shoe I am ” represents the line of thinking that was used by congrass to divide and rule Hindus. Sadly for this megalomaniac and his sad little brain those days are over.

  7. I think it is great that we have a clear executive and yogi is taking care of the law and order situation of UP

  8. Shivam can not help. He spews only venom.
    His name Shivam has nothing to do with Shiv.
    One Shiv will gulp poison {Neelkanth}, and this Shiv will only spew Venom via lies.

  9. Shivam Vij is The Print’s surrogate of Rediff’s Syed Firdous Ashraf. So his pieces have to be deconstructed to get the truth!

  10. What is Vij “contributing” to the Print? His own version of the support to the corrupt relics of the dynasty and their cronies? His prejudice against Modi and BJP is grating!

  11. So called netas like Rathore are a thorn in the flush of deceiplined party BJP.They are misfit to be in BJP cadre.The earlier they are weeded out better it is as they do more harm than good to the party.BJP leadership has shown their anguish already by suspending the culprit. It is just a matter of few days when he will be shown the door for ever..

    • Iso soul searching and investigating facts why everyone is blaming the writer and burying head in sand as if nothing is happening. Real bhakts who think bjp top leadership can do no harm need introspection. Please note nothing is permanent in this world so bjp too is not.

  12. What a baseless nonsense piece. How low you will go Mr Vij. What somebody speaks in his house does it makes sense, and whether this is really true, could be fake /doctored or in some heated argument, who cares?. Mr Vij is UP is with BJP even after 2022

  13. Keep trying ,it’s your one and only agenda to break the Hinduism/nationalism in castism again but you will not succeed.I have never read any positive blog on this media.You pepole are running the agenda which keep the nation under rules of Mughals and British for centuries.

  14. Every second day this idiot keeps on vomitting his hate for the BJP. Today he has written that OBCs are uncomfortable with the BJP. He will repeat. Then his colleagues will repeat. Then others will pick up and thus narrative will be built. This is what these guys have been trying in vain since 2002. By hook or crook find faults with BJP. And who is Rakesh Rathore ? So what if he is an MLA. The UP CM is dealing with covid crisis with iron hand. If Rathore is unhappy about it so be it. The priority is to save lives not to pander to MLAs whims. Does the writer remember what happened to Pranab Mukherjee, upper cast Brahmin when he challenged congress high command. He was expelled for 6 years. Why is the author giving this a caste colour ? This can happen to anyone in any party. What’s so new about it ? Remember how Sitaram Kesari was locked up in bathroom and then literally thrown on the road by congress goons when he challenged Sonia. Does the writer remember ex PM Narasimha Rao. His body was not allowed in the AICC Headquarters by the vindictive Sonia. So who is Rakesh anyway ? Stop this supari journalism.

    • I tell you a thing bjp will not get more vote from Rathor samaj this will impact in 2022 vidhan sabha election

  15. Thank got we in Tamilnadu had the dravidian movement which propelled OBCs and SC/ST communities to achieve social development.

    • Look at the state of TN! If this is success of Dravidian movement, TN can keep it. None of the other Southern states wants this nonsense!

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