Lucknow: Priests chanted Sanskrit mantras and blew conches while the crowd shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ at the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) headquarters in Lucknow before party chief Mayawati landed up to address a meeting of eminent people — a Prabudh Jan Sammelan — Tuesday.
In her address, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister promised to focus on development and also ensure the safety of Brahmins in the state. She also declared that she will not build any new parks or memorials.
Her outreach to Brahmins, estimated to constitute around 10 per cent of UP’s population, is seen as her renewed attempt to woo the community whose support was instrumental in the BSP getting a majority in the 2007 assembly election.
Tuesday’s Prabudh Jan Sammelan was mainly focused on Brahmins, and priests who had been invited to the party headquarters to chant religious mantras.
Brahmin security to be a priority
Chief among Mayawati’s promises to the Brahmin community Tuesday was the assurance that they will be provided security.
“Brahmins have agreed that under BSP’s rule, people from the community were in better condition as compared to under BJP’s rule,” she said. “I assure the Brahmin community that if we come to power in the next elections, we will ensure their security.”
She added that just like in 2007, if Brahmins supported her party, it would form the government with a majority.
She has also tasked her party leaders to ensure they enlist at least 1,000 Brahmin workers in every assembly constituency, particularly in the reserved seats.
“If the Brahmin community emulates Dalits and doesn’t fall for any allurement or enticement, then no force can stop us from forming a majority government in UP just like in 2007,” Mayawati said.
She also said Dalits have always stood “solid rock” behind the BSP, adding that the community never gets swayed by anything.
“Hope that other communities linked to the BJP would also do the same,” she said.
No parks, focus on development only
In her speech, Mayawati also promised to focus on the development of the state, and not on parks and memorials, an issue over which she has faced massive criticism over the years.
“We do not need to make any new monuments or parks in the name of those who were our guiding lights — we have already done it ‘thok ke bhav (wholesale)’ in our previous terms,” she said. “If I form the government again, I will not concentrate on statues or memorials or parks but on governing the state with my best possible ability.”
Mayawati also taunted the RSS, over its chief Mohan Bhagwat remarking that Hindus and Muslims share the same ancestry.
“Why are the Sangh and the BJP treating members of the minority community as adopted?” she asked, adding that her party would not discriminate against any section.
“When we form the government with an absolute majority in 2022, we will implement our policy of sarvajan hitay sarva jan sukhaay (benefit for all, peace for all) as we did in 2007,” she said.
“Back then, we did not just look after the interests of Dalits and backwards but also of those from the upper castes. Our party is not for one caste or religion. It is a party for all sections of society.”
Presence of priests and women workers
The BSP event saw the participation of priests from several towns including Sitapur, Barabanki, Lucknow and Hardoi.
They chanted slogans in favour of Mayawati such as “Hathi Nahi Ganesh Hai, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh Hai”, “Brahmin Shankh Bajayega, Hathi Chalta Jayega”.
BSP general secretary and face of the Brahmin Sammelan, Satish Mishra, also spoke on the party’s contribution to the Brahmin community.
The party has handed his wife, Kalpana Mishra, the responsibility of reaching out to Brahmin women through meetings across the state. She had launched her outreach campaign from Ayodhya on 23 July.
Speaking to ThePrint after the event, BSP national spokesperson Sudhindra Bhadauria said the party will win the 2022 assembly polls.
“Behenji (Mayawati) is back in form; now no one can stop us from forming the government,” he said. “It’s a triangular fight in UP, and in such a scenario, Brahmins, Muslims and Dalits will support the BSP. Our old formula will help us to win the elections.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)