COM­ING UP 2017

Com­mu­nity not known to vote en bloc, di­vided as it is on class, age and de­mog­ra­phy Brah­min­shave­beena hop­ping­com­mu­nity... What­apoorBrah­min wantsis­d­if­fer­ent­from whatanup­per­class... eliteBrah­min­wants

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Luc­know: “Chau­dansaalka­van­vas hai, Brah­manon ke bina nahin khatamhoga (The14-yearex­ile­won’t end with­out the sup­port of Brah­mins),” paan shop owner Ram­narayan Mishra said in ru­ral Bak­shiKaTal­ab­n­earLuc­know,echo­ing a key con­cern among BJP mem­bers and sym­pa­this­ers across UP.

Brah­min vot­ers such as Mishra in this Ya­dav-dom­i­nated con­stituency, where two Brah­mins are in the fray, con­tinue to sup­port the BJP but the com­mu­nity is not known to vote en bloc, di­vided as it is on class, age and de­mog­ra­phy, among other fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts. The com­mu­nity, which ac­counts for 10% of pop­u­la­tion in the state and about 20% votes in east­ern UP, is openly wooed by al­most ev­ery party in elec­tion sea­son with nu­mer­ous Brah­min sam­me­lans.

Th­es­tate’sfirstCMwasaBrah­min, Govind Bal­labh Pant, and Brah­min lead­er­ssuchasKa­mala­p­atiTri­pathi, HN Bahuguna and Sri­pati Mishra re­mained at the helm later. But since De­cem­ber 1989, when Congress’ ND Ti­wari demit­ted of­fice, the CM has been ei­ther a Dalit or from OBCs. Mishra, 45, rues the fact that his chil­dren have only seen the “Ya­davMus­li­mau­rJatavraj”inthes­tate.He is firm about vot­ing for the BJP can­di­date Av­inash Trivedi in his con­stituency, but he said Nakul Dubey, a for­mer min­is­ter, has a bet­ter chance of win­ning. “The fight is with SP here. Brah­mins will rally be­hind the stronger Brah­min can­di­date. Jo jeet raha hai us Brah­man ko jee­tayenge (We will make the stronger Brah­min win),” he said.

He said he de­cided to stand by the BJP only be­cause the party pre­ferred a Brah­min can­di­date in the con­stituency over party heavy­weights Shiv­dar­shan Ya­dav, Ram Saran Ya­dav, Ram Ni­was Ya­dav and Pradeep Ya­dav. A BJP leader said the party is sure of bag­ging a ma­jor­ity of Brah­min votes, point­ing out that the Modi govern­ment’s fo­cus on the BJP icon Deen­dayal Upad­hyaya, a Brah­min, has gone down well with the com­mu­nity. He said there is a wave against Ya­davMus­lim supremacy across UP, more so among Brah­mins.

Prashant Trivedi, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Luc­know-based Giri In­sti­tute of So­cial stud­ies, said older Brah­mins vote for BJP be­cause they feel the party un­der Modi lis­tens to the com­mu­nity more than any­one else, ac­com­mo­dates them in govern­ment and party posts, and talks about de­vel­op­ment. “But the com­mu­nity also looks for the stronger Brah­min can­di­date among the ones con­test­ing. BJP to­day is dif­fer­ent from what it was in 2014, but much more gal­vanised than in 2012,” Trivedi said. “Many Brah­mins feel the BJP in sev­eral con­stituen­cies is not as strong as it was in 2014. This is why they might go for stronger Brah­min can­di­dates of other par­ties.Bu­tasacom­mu­nity­at­statelevel they will rally be­hind the party.”

SP is queer­ing the pitch for BJP in this re­spect, Trivedi said, for Akhilesh has opened his party to Brah­mins who would have never vot­ed­fori­tother­wise,mainly­be­cause of the com­mu­nity’s min­i­mal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the party and govern­ment. “This is some­thing the SP re­alised this elec­tion sea­son,” said Pro­fes­sor AK Verma, who heads Kan­pur’s Cen­tre for the Study of So­ci­ety and Pol­i­tics. “So now in SP posters, in­stead of just Ya­davThakur-Mus­lim­faces,youoftenseea Brah­min­face.Evenif no­ta­can­di­date it would be of some in­flu­en­tial sup­porter be­long­ing to the com­mu­nity.”

The Brah­min votes could largely be frag­mented over class, ac­cord­ing to Verma, who said there is a rush to wooBrah­min­vot­ers­be­causethe­yare not aligned with any party. “To re­main po­lit­i­cally rel­e­vant, the Brah­mins have al­ways been a hopping com­mu­nity. They started with Congress,then­went­toBJP,thenBSP. Nowthe­yare­back­toBJP.What­apoor Brah­min wants is dif­fer­ent from what an up­per class, elite Brah­min wants. The for­mer will vote for bet­ter lawan­dorder­but­the­lat­ter­to­be­close to the govern­ment,” he said.

The BJP’s de­ci­sion not to project a chief min­is­te­rial face is un­likely to go down well with Brah­min vot­ers, Ver­ma­said.“AkhileshYa­davis­more like Man­mo­han Singh of the Congress who is favoured even if peo­ple don’t like the party,” he said.

Vish­wanathPandeyof theBa­naras Hindu Univer­sity said Brah­mins of UP are up­set be­cause they have been marginalised over the years, de­spite be­ing sought af­ter by ev­ery party. In this elec­tion, how­ever, he said the com­mu­nity is likely to stick with the BJP.“Wait­fortheMarch3rally­bythe PMinVaranasi.Itwill­havean­im­pact on en­tire poor­van­chal,” he said.

Congress lead­ers, on the hand, said the party will try to repli­cate its suc­cess in Bi­har, where it won 27 of the 41 seats it con­tested, with its for­mula of Dalit-Brah­min-Mus­lim com­bi­na­tion. Verma said Mayawati, who stitched a Dalit-Brah­min vote bank in 2007, could not hold on to the sup­port of the Brah­mins in sub­se­quent elec­tions be­cause Dal­its f elt Brah­mins were eating into their pre-em­i­nent place in the party. Even in 2007, only about 16% Brah­mins voted for the BSP, he said.

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