New Delhi: The BJP Sunday formed a four-member committee to woo Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2022 assembly elections in the state, ThePrint has learnt. Party sources said the committee has been tasked with organising Brahmin outreach programmes in all 403 assembly constituencies in the state.
The members of the committee are former minister of state in the Modi government, Shiv Pratap Shukla, MP Mahesh Sharma, party leader Abhijit Mishra, and Rajya Sabha member Rambhai Mokariya.
Ajay Mishra Teni, who was inducted in the Union Cabinet a few months ago as a Brahmin face — and whose son has been accused of mowing down protesting farmers with his car in Lakhimpur Kheri — will also be involved in the outreach programme, sources said.
The decision to constitute the committee, the sources said, was taken at a meeting of the party’s Brahmin state leaders with the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh poll in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan Sunday. Those who attended the meeting in Delhi include UP deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, state cabinet ministers Shrikant Sharma, Jitin Prasada, and Brijesh Pathak, and MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
The constitution of the Brahmin outreach committee follows “input received by the party that there are certain grievances against the party among Brahmins in the state which need to be addressed”, said a senior BJP leader present in the meeting.
The leader added, “Although the BJP government has worked tirelessly for all sections of society, a need was felt to campaign more aggressively among the Brahmins for better transfer of vote.”
Pradhan had, however, told the media after Sunday’s meeting that no section of society or caste was upset with the BJP. “There are several Brahmin ministers in the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and the party works by taking all sections of the society forward,” he was quoted as saying.
‘Will be told of BJP’s work for Ram temple, Kashi Vishwanath’
Brahmins comprise 16 per cent of the total population in UP and have considerable influence in eastern UP. The region had played a big role in the BJP’s 2017 assembly election victory, which is why the party has deployed many leaders to woo the caste here.
When the BJP government in UP went in for a cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, one of the additions in the ministry was Jitin Prasada, who had earlier accused the Yogi government of “step-motherly” treatment towards Brahmins in the state. This was while he was a Congress member and yet to join the BJP. CM Yogi Adityanath is a Thakur.
The senior BJP leader quoted above said as part of the party’s outreach programme for Brahmins, “community leaders will reach the Brahmin community through several measures such as organising Brahmin sammelans and meetings, where they will be told about the party’s effort in building the Ram temple in Ayodhya, redevelopment of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and other work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief minister Yogi Adityanath”.
Caste has always played an important role in UP elections and other parties too have been wooing Brahmins in the run-up to the 2022 elections. While the Bahujan Samaj Party has been holding Brahmin sammelans, the Samajwadi Party has organised prabuddha sammelans (‘intellectual meetings’) that have been mainly focused on Brahmins.
The Congress is also said to be exploring the option of projecting a Brahmin chief ministerial candidate.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)