Is the ground being prepared yet again for the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh to gain support of the Brahmin community in the 2022 assembly election? This question is being raised in the backdrop of recent developments in the state. The anger of the already miffed Brahmin community—due to the ‘Thakur policy’ of the Yogi Adityanath government — has been stoked again after the alleged encounter of a minor in the Vikas Dubey case and the recent murder of journalist Vikram Joshi in Ghaziabad.
More than Dubey’s and the minor’s ‘encounter’, the Brahmin community’s anger has been incited by the government and police action taken under the garb of ‘instant justice’. The community is enraged — be it the pictures showing Vikas Dubey’s wife and minor son knelt down before the UP police or the encounter of Dubey’s aide Prabhat Mishra who was reportedly also a minor because he allegedly ‘snatched a cop’s pistol’. Five other Brahmins were also killed for allegedly having links with Dubey, and most of them did not have any criminal record.
In this backdrop, BSP chief Mayawati criticising the Yogi government’s excesses against the Brahmin community is an important political development. When the community was being put in the dock because of Vikas Dubey, accused of killing eight policemen in Kanpur, Mayawati criticised those who were targeting them with a Tweet: “The government should do no such thing so that the Brahmin community starts feeling scared, terrorized and insecure.”
2. साथ ही, यूपी सरकार अब खासकर विकास दुबे-काण्ड की आड़ में राजनीति नहीं बल्कि इस सम्बंध में जनविश्वास की बहाली हेतु मजबूत तथ्यों के आधार पर ही कार्रवाई करे तो बेहतर है। सरकार ऐसा कोई काम नहीं करे जिससे अब ब्राह्मण समाज भी यहाँ अपने आपको भयभीत, आतंकित व असुरक्षित महसूस करे।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) July 12, 2020
Brahmins are angry with BJP
In the aftermath of these ‘encounters’, pictures and videos have emerged on social media where Brahmins can be seen expressing anger against the BJP. In some videos, people can be seen vowing never to vote for the BJP again.
The attacks on media persons in Uttar Pradesh have also added fuel to the fire because members of the Brahmin community hold influential positions in the press. In Vikram Joshi’s case, the police did not take any action against the accused despite repeated complaints earlier by the journalist.
So, speculations about Mayawati and the Brahmins eyeing each other have started doing the rounds. Despite the Brahmin community blindly backing the BJP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath doesn’t seem to be appeasing them. The dominance of Thakurs in the corridors of power and administration in the state was already absolute. Yogi’s silence on ‘Brahmin oppression’ has added insult to injury. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that the Brahmin community has started feeling the itch to find BJP’s alternative in Uttar Pradesh.
The anger is also simmering because the Yogi government has allegedly ‘saved its own people’ such as former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand despite grave allegations against them. But Vikas Dubey was not even allowed to reach court.
A 2007 repeat?
In 2007, the BSP had formed the government on its own in Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that it was the party’s successful attempt in making the Scheduled Castes coalesce with the upper castes that had propelled it to victory. This was the time when the BSP brought forward the slogan of Sarvajan Sukahaya.
In the backdrop of recent developments, a 2007-like situation can arise in the state again. However, more than the BJP, the Brahmin voters are angry with the Yogi government. But in a democracy, the electoral arithmetic of every state is different, and in UP’s electoral math, Yogi is now on the target of the Brahmins. Power and participation are the most preferred formulae in political alliances, which the Brahmin community previously got a taste of by supporting the BSP. Something it may want in the future too.
Yearning for power among Brahmins of UP
The competition among the Brahmins and Kshatriyas of Uttar Pradesh is not new. Be it politics or contracts, or even crime, there is fierce competition between the two castes. The stronghold of Brahmins on the throne of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest state, continued for four decades. Although Vaishyas and Thakurs also became chief ministers in between, their tenures were far and few.
The socialist and Ambedkarite upsurge drove Brahmins out of power. Consequently, the Brahmins had hoped that whenever the BJP would come to power, their dominance would be revived. But that did not happen and the party, after getting a thumping majority in the 2017 assembly election, handed over the key to power to a Thakur — Yogi Adityanath.
The Brahmins had hoped that they would be able to get a share in power through control over key government and administrative positions. But when most of these posts also went to the Thakurs, the community’s hopes were dashed. Their patience is now thinning.
Why would Brahmins come to camp BSP?
The idea of Brahmins supporting the BSP in Uttar Pradesh does seem bizarre at first, but it is a fact that in 2007, the party did receive their support. Social alliances were engineered in such a way that this political miracle could happen. There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. And the way Brahmins received attention in Mayawati’s government and administration, and even in the party, showed the community did enjoy a comfortable relationship with the BSP.
There are 12 per cent Brahmin voters in Uttar Pradesh and the state has had Brahmin chief ministers for nearly 23 years. After the end of Congress’ dominance in the state, the Brahmin’s shifted oath to the BJP, but even after forming the government on four occasions, the party never appointed a Brahmin chief minister. Hence, it is possible that the community may try to remove the BJP from power in order to send out a strong message — that it is impossible to form a government in the state by sidelining the Brahmins.
How will this happen?
Will the voters who are angry with Yogi necessarily align with the BSP without any effort from the latter? The answer is no, because the Samajwadi Party (SP) too is out to lure the Brahmin voters. Akhilesh Yadav has been raising the issue of atrocities against Brahmins. Leaders like Congress’ Jitin Prasada are doing the same. The 2007 experiment was not able to establish the seriousness of the BSP towards the Brahmins. But it is being anticipated that if the BSP makes sincere attempts and works seriously on the politics of uniting the Brahmin community, then 2007 can be repeated.
The author is the editor of the Dalit Dastak Media Group. Views are personal.