New Delhi: The Congress is set to woo the Brahmin community in Uttar Pradesh, with its leader and former Union Minister of State Jitin Prasada launching the ‘Brahmin Chetna Parishad’ Monday.
The body seeks to give a “voice” to the Brahmin community, which has been “systematically targeted under the Adityanath regime”, Prasada told ThePrint.
“Since the Adityanath government came to power, the crimes and killings against Brahmins have increased manifold. They are being killed, and they aren’t being given any justice,” he said.
Moreover, Prasada claimed Brahmins are the most targeted community — even more than the oppressed castes in the state. “At the moment, data tells us that Brahmin killings are disproportionately high, more than the other castes,” he claimed.
आइये “ब्रह्म चेतना संवाद” कार्यक्रम के माध्यम से एक दूसरे से जुड़े……..🙏 pic.twitter.com/y18ZB0EFis
— Jitin Prasada जितिन प्रसाद (@JitinPrasada) July 6, 2020
Prasada, who served as MoS for Human Resource Development and a number of other portfolios in Manmohan Singh’s UPA governments, said the Yogi government has meted out “step-motherly” treatment to Brahmins.
Previous accusations of Yogi’s ‘caste bias’
The Congress has targeted the Yogi Adityanath government earlier too for ignoring Brahmins for key appointments in the government, despite the community’s overwhelming vote in the BJP’s favour in both the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Yogi, who belongs to the Kshatriya caste, has been accused of “caste bias” by others too.
His cabinet has a total of 58 ministers, which include 28 people from the upper castes, 19 from the backward classes and seven from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Of the upper castes, eight each are Brahmins and Kshatriyas, five are Vaishyas, two Bhumihars, three Khatris, and one Kayasth.
Brahmin representation is ‘tokenistic’
Prasada said he acknowledges that Brahmins have historically been a very well-represented community in the political as well as bureaucratic class.
“Many leaders of the community are in power, yes. But the issue under this government is that it is only a tokenistic representation, they aren’t truly made to feel included,” he said.
This is also not the first time the Congress is trying to woo Brahmins, who are estimated to make up about 10 per cent of UP’s population, though this is the most direct attempt yet.
In 2007, Rita Bahuguna Joshi was made the president of the UP Congress Committee and emerged as the party’s ‘Brahmin face’ in the state until 2012. In October 2016, when she quit the Congress to join the BJP, it was seen as a big blow to the party’s ‘Brahmin voter appeal’.
Prasada said he is only trying to raise the issue of the “targeted killings” of Brahmins. “Last month an Unnao-based journalist was killed. Just the other day, four family members from the Brahmin community were hacked to death. All these are important issues that must be raised,” he said.
Prasada was referring to the murder of journalist Shubham Tripathi, who was killed allegedly after a dispute with some elements of “land mafia” on 19 June. Then, on 3 July, Lallan Prasad Pandey and his three family members were found murdered in their home. The motive of the murder hasn’t been ascertained yet.
The Brahmin Chetna Parishad, Prasada said, would act as a platform to hear the problems faced by the community, and help them “find solutions”.
“We want to reach out to Brahmins across professions — lawyers, doctors, teachers. Listen to their woes, be their voice, and help find solutions for them,” he said.