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BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during a joint press conference in Lucknow | PTI
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The vote bank politics in Uttar Pradesh is taking a U-turn — from the Bahujans to the Brahmins — signalling a shift not seen in the last three decades.  Leaders cutting across the political spectrum, from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to Mayawati to Akhilesh Yadav, are wooing the electorally dominant Brahmin community. Vikas Dubey’s ‘encounter’ was just the trigger these parties were waiting for, but the reasons are as old as key lessons learnt from elections in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

Estimates from various studies conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies suggest that the Brahmins constitute about 10 per cent of total voters in Uttar Pradesh — a sizable chunk that can have substantial influence over the politics of the state. It is this number, which is forcing all political parties to compete with each other.

The ongoing clamour to become the voice of the Brahmins shows the diminishing returns of focusing solely on their core Bahujan politics that they have practised over the years. But this no longer guarantees the seat of power in Lucknow. To win in UP now means breaking the Brahmin vote, which voted en bloc for BJP last time.


Also read: Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav must read Jyotiba Phule before erecting Parashuram statues


Brahmins and BJP

Evidence from studies conducted by the CSDS suggests that while the BJP did garner votes from various castes communities during the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and 2017 assembly polls, it was the Brahmin vote that played a key role in these victories. Ever since the decline of the Congress in the 1980s, the Brahmin vote has significantly shifted towards the BJP. In fact, a major reason for the Congress’ decline in Uttar Pradesh and some other cow-belt states is the shift of the Brahmin vote away from the party.

Although the Brahmins have been voting for the BJP in sizeable numbers since the mid-1990s, this massive shift was only witnessed in the last three elections of 2014, 2017 and 2019.

During the 2007 and 2012 assembly elections, 40 and 38 per cent Brahmins voted for the BJP respectively, but in the 2017 assembly polls, 80 per cent of the community’s votes went to the party. The 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections also witnessed 72 and 82 per cent of Brahmins voting for the BJP, which was nearly double its support base among the community in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier. Hence, the BJP needs to retain the Brahmin support if it wants a repeat of 2017 in 2022.


Also read: Opposing Ram in 1990s was easy. Yadavs’ secularism will be tested with Krishna in 2020


2019 learnings

When the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had joined hands during the 2019 Lok Sabha election, they had hoped their social coalition would not leave much space for the BJP. However, the political experiment fell flat with the SP managing to win only 5 Lok Sabha seats while BSP settled for 10. It was the loyal Brahmin vote bank that yet again worked for the BJP.

It is their learning from the 2019 Lok Sabha defeat that makes Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati realise the importance of the Brahmin vote. They need to break the near monopoly of the BJP over the Brahmins and at the same time keep their own vote back intact.

Building statues is Mayawati’s forte. Be it of Ambedkar, Dalit icon Kanshi Ram or her own. This time, the BSP leader has set her eyes on Parashuram — the newly discovered icon of the Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh. However, she is receiving tough competition from her former ally Akhilesh Yadav.

Author Saeed Naqvi wrote a book titled The Last Brahmin Prime Minister of India in the 1990s. It was the heady decade of social justice and even talking of Brahmin voters was regressive. Much has changed since then.

Sanjay Kumar is a Professor and former Director at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). He is also a well-known psephologist and political commentator. Views are personal.

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4 Comments Share Your Views

4 COMMENTS

  1. These parties have never spoken about development, jobs, better fulfilment and always gone ahead with caste appeasement and shaming one group. Why would that group look out for Mayawati Or Alhilesh if all they do is build statues and don’t care about any form of governance?

    When people are being racist to you and your community, it is natural to gravitate to people who are not, however stupid those people are. There is a reason why Congresa gets so many minority votes, though they have shown a clear lack of leadership in the past 6 years

  2. People look at the disaster of Kashmir,Naxals,Article 370,Galwan and Ladakah – and say,that these Brahmins and Banias will doom Hindoosthan !

    The PM and HM of Hindoosthan are Banias,and the RSS are Brahmins,and so are,the bureaucrats ! dindooohindoo

    What did RAMA say of these Brahmin/Bania vermin ?

    कच्चिन् न लोकायतिकान् ब्राह्मणामः तात सेवसे |
    अनर्थ कुशला ह्य् एते बालाः पण्डित मानिनः || २-१००-३८

    38. I hope are not honouring the materialistic brahmins, My dear brother! These men are skilled in perverting the mind, ignorant as they are and thinking themselves to be learned.”

    धर्म शास्त्रेषु मुख्येषु विद्यमानेषु दुर्बुधाः |
    बुद्धिमान् वीक्षिकीम् प्राप्य निरर्थम् प्रवदन्ति ते || २-१००-३९

    39. “Reaching to their logical acumen, these men of perverted intellect preach meaninglessly, in the presence of eminent books on righteousness.”

    BUT THE HINDOOS DO NOT GET IT ? Rama is WARNING THE HINDOOS “NOT TO” TRUST the Brahmins ! He is WARNING them ! Note the expressions “perverted intellect”,
    “meaningless preaching”….. Can it be MORE SPECIFIC ?

    REWIND – 1962 and 1965 – COAS was a Brahmin, Defense Minister was a Brahmin,PM was a Brahmin (although Nehru was only a Quasi – Hindoo)

    Krishna refers to the “Vedas and the Brahmins”, as under :

    O son of Prithâ! who are strongly attached to (worldly) pleasures and power, and whose minds are drawn away by “that flowery talk which is full of (ordinances of)
    specific acts”, for the “attainment of (those) pleasures and (that) power”, and which promises birth, as the “fruit of acts (that flowery talk)” which those unwise
    ones utter, who are “enamoured of Vedic words”, who say there is nothing else, who are full of desires..

    REWIND – Ladakh and Galwan Disaster, Article 370…..All planned by the Brahmins (Foreign Minister,Defense/Home and Cabinet Secretary)

    CAVEAT – 1971 war – COAS was a Parsee,Indira Gandhi was married to a Muslim/Parsi,and was also the defense minister.During her time,Hindoosthan was at the peak
    of its international glory,and at several turning points of achievment – which will “NEVER” be attained.

    Krishna is WARNING the Hindoos ! He is warning against the “evils of sophistry and self-righteousness” ! But the Hindoos DO NOT GET IT !

    Dalits are poor and illiterate – and so,they know NOT. The Hindoos can READ – but they are weasels and cowards – and hence,they were,are and will be,doomed.

    History records that whosoever,trusted and relied on the Brahmins,was doomed and destroyed,in 10-20 years.Take the case of the hapless Sikhs – whose Gurus
    and scriptures were killed,and destroyed/forged,by the Brahmins – and STILL, the Sikhs claim,that they fought Islam,for the honour and life of the Brahmins
    (Suicide Blonde mentality – But who is blondie ?) ! The Brahmins and Dogras, also destroyed Ranjit Singh – solely by theft and treachery !

    Still the Hindoos DO NOT get it !

    Lastly,I present the GENIUS OF BERUNI,and note the SIMILARITY of his views,with that of RAMA and KRISHNA – the pure gems of genius !

    The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs.
    They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid.
    They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among
    their own people,still much more, of course, from any foreigner…
    This wrong estimate of themselves blinded the Hindus and they assumed a false sense of superiority which ultimately proved their ruin.

    Beruni is referring ONLY TO the Brahmins !

    • Sir how can we ever end caste based hate, if educated people like yourself read sensation seeking journalists and vote seeking politicians and get fired up with the hate they want to propogate.

      Let us hold our leaders accountable rather than fall for such slander

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