Lucknow: The BJP is hoping that the presence of former union minister and Congress leader Jitin Prasada, who joined the party Wednesday, will assuage some of the anger that Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh have against the Yogi Adityanath government.
Brahmins in the state are angry at what they see as atrocities against them going unpunished and their community being ignored in the corridors of power.
Prasada has himself looked to capitalise on this anger, and for a while had been positioning himself as the Congress’ Brahmin face.
“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 had told ThePrint in an interview last year.
Moreover, Prasada had claimed that Brahmins were the most targeted community in the state — even more than the oppressed castes. “At the moment, data tells us that Brahmin killings are disproportionately high, more than the other castes,” he had then claimed.
With Prasada now switching sides, the question in UP’s political circles is if it will help the BJP quell Brahmin resentment against the Yogi government.
“It’s a big story for UP politics. The BJP may give him a key post in Uttar Pradesh to cool Brahmin anger against the Yogi sarkar,” said Aseem Pandey, president of the Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Sangathan Mahasangh (The All India Brahmin Federation).
“As an important community, we are angry with the ruling government but Jitin brings a new hope for Brahmins. Many Brahmin bhai and behan now can say ‘Hamara aadmi bhi hai satta dal may’,” he added.
Pandey further said that Brahmins will now further look to Prasada. “I, personally, also have a lot of expectations from him because he has been continuously raising the voice of Brahmins in the state,” he said.
“He can help us in solving several issues. For example, we are running a campaign for 19-year-old Khushi Dubey, who is still in jail for no fault of hers. She had gone to jail during the gangster Vikas Dubey encounter. We will inform Jitinji now. Maybe he will help.”
According to Dr Rakesh Upadhyay, a UP-based political analyst and a visiting faculty member at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Prasada’s switch will hurt the Congress.
“Jitin leaving is a big blow to the Congress as the party has lost a mass leader who has a strong grip over Brahmins. For the past two years, he has been very vocal on several issues related to Brahmins,” Upadhyay said. “On the other hand, the BJP needed a proper Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh. It’s a good political move.”
Professor Kaviraj of Lucknow University, however, pointed out that Congress leaders who have joined the BJP, such as Rita JBahuguna oshi, Sanjay Singh and Ratna Singh, haven’t found it easy.
“So it’s not a given that Jitin will change the narrative within a few weeks and cool Brahmin anger in Uttar Pradesh,” Kaviraj said.
Prasada’s positioning as Brahmin leader
Prasada had in July 2020 launched the Brahmin Chetna Parishad to fight for Brahmin rights. He had then in October 2020 announced his decision to form ‘T-20’ teams in every district under his ‘Brahmin Chetna Parishad’ to offer assistance those in the community fighting legal battles.
Prasada had then told ThePrint that atrocities against Brahmins in UP had been increasing steadily. “There have been several cases of murder, kidnapping and rape. Moreover, several impoverished Brahmin families neither have resources nor money to fight their legal battles,” he had said. “There is no one to provide the right legal counselling to them.”
Despite Prasada’s switch, the Brahmin Chetna Parishad’s national secretary Ranjan Dixit told ThePrint that it will not stop its work.
“The Chetna Parishad will continue doing its job. We will keep raising our voice on issues related to Brahmins. We are not an outfit for any party,” Dixit said. “I am personally happy for Jitinji. I now hope he will address our issues more strongly.”
The Brahmin vote in UP
In UP, Brahmins constitute around 12 per cent of state population and in several assembly segments, make up more than 20 per cent of the vote share.
In July last year, some Brahmin bodies had questioned the government’s intention following the encounter of gangster Vikas Dubey, a Brahmin.
Several Brahmin bodies have also expressed concerns at the Yogi Adityanath government’s workings. It had propelled a Brahmin vs Thakur narrative in the state. The community had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)