Mayawati bets on Brahmin-Dalit combo for encore of ’07 show

Mayawati claimed the people from the "upper castes" were repenting voting for the BJP in the last state elections and said their interests will be safeguarded if her party comes to power.
BSP supremo Mayawati (Photo| PTI)
BSP supremo Mayawati (Photo| PTI)

LUCKNOW:  Fourteen years after BSP’s Dalit-Brahmin social engineering earned it a majority on its own for the first and the only time in Uttar Pradesh, the party on Sunday brushed dust off the formula to tap into the community’s disgruntlement over its perceived sidelining by a pro-Thakur Yogi Adityanath dispensation ahead of the crucial 2022 polls.

Announcing the revival of the formula, party chief Mayawati said the Brahmin outreach would be spearheaded by her second-in-command and party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra from Ayodhya, a key rallying point for BJP and allies.

“I am confident that Brahmins will not vote for BJP in the next Assembly polls. A campaign under the leadership of our party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra will be launched from Ayodhya on July 23 to connect with the Brahmins and assure them that their interests are safe only under the BSP’s rule,” Mayawati said.

According to BSP sources, at least six Brahmin meetings would be convened across the state to attract the crucial Brahmin vote bank, which not only played a pivotal role in bringing BSP to power in 2007, but also ended the 16-year-old era of coalition politics in UP. Before 2007, the last majority government was headed by BJP’s Kalyan Singh in 1991.

Sources said the spadework for the revival of the connect began six months ago, when Mishra sent out feelers to prominent Brahmin caste bodies in 70 out of 75 districts.

The Bhaichara Committees (brotherhood) that played a key role in BSP’s social engineering by bringing under a common banner the SC, MBC, EBC and Brahmin votes, too, are being revived to win back the non-Jatav votes, which have moved to the BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Joins call for oppn unity
Mayawati said Opposition parties should come together to hold the Centre accountable on its apathy towards farmers, among other issues. “BSP will raise fuel and LPG price, inflation and vaccination in the monsoon session of Parliament,” she said.

Mayawati engineering revival amid grave existential crisis

Reduced to a pale shadow of its former self, the BSP’s attempt to revive the formula might seem like a desperate attempt to remain relevant in UP, but according to political observers, it is a well calculated strategy to harness the Brahmin disgruntlement. However, the BJP hit back, alleging the BSP chief is “remembering” the Brahmins only because of assembly elections next year and is pursuing “opportunistic politics”.

“Though the 10-12% Brahmin votes tilted the balance in BJP’s favour in 2017, the saffron party had galvanized the non-Yadav, MBC, EBC and the non-Jatav SC votes. The BSP senses an opportunity here as there is a disillusionment among the Brahmins towards BJP, particularly due to Yogi Adityanath’s pro-Thakur and anti-Brahmin image. The caste arithmetic can yield the party a solid vote block of 30-35% if it brings together Brahmin, SC and MBC/EBC votes. Then its task would be to woo the Muslim votebank (15-18%) to keep it from going over to Akhilesh Yadav-led SP,” an observer said. 

The BSP, which finished second to Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP in 2002 with 98 seats (23.06% votes), made major gains in 2007, by securing 206 seats with 30.43% vote share by eating into 3.11% BJP vote and 3% Congress vote, which were the traditional loyal Brahmin vote of the two parties. 

The BSP’s 2007 winning Dalit-Brahmin social engineering, whose foundation was being laid by Satish Chandra Mishra since 2005, was popularized by slogans like Brahmin Shankh Bajayega Haathi Badhta Jaayega and Haathi Nahi Ganesh Hain Brahma Vishnu Mahesh Hain.

 “Out of the 206 seats won by BSP in 2007, 45-50 MLAs (22-24%) were Brahmins, including young leaders like Nakul Dubey, Rakesh Dhar Tripathi and ex-BJP man Rangnath Mishra. More than 10 cabinet ministers and 15 MLCs, too, were Brahmins, owing to which the BSP started being dubbed as Brahmin Samaj Party in 2007.

But rampant corruption charges, high anti-incumbency and increase in cases of SC/ST Atrocities Act against upper castes, particularly alienated Brahmins from the BSP, resulted in the BSP losing the 2012 polls to young Akhilesh Yadav’s SP, which had young Brahmin leaders like tech savy ex-IIM Ahmedabad professor Abhishek Mishra. While the SP emerged a clear winner with 224 seats, the BSP plunged to just 80 seats (126 seats and 4.52% votes lesser than 2007 figure) which was lower than 2002 polls figures,” Lucknow based political commentator Anshuman Shukla said.

The entire political landscape and caste dynamics of UP underwent a sea change with arrival of Narendra Modi brand of BJP politics in 2014, which not only won back the Brahmins, but created a solid vote bank of non-Jatav SC voters, non-Yadav OBC (including Patels, Mauryas, Lodhis, Kushwahas, Jats and Rajbhars) and upper caste, giving around 44% winning vote to the BJP. T

The BJP’s success story continued in 2017 assembly polls with the BJP winning a record 312 seats on its own (SP just 47 and BSP only 19 seats) and also the 2019 polls. Meanwhile, Mayawati also said the BSP MPs will raise issues such as the rise in fuel and cooking gas prices and matters related to COVID-19 vaccination during the Monsoon session of Parliament which begins on Monday.

Challenges before BSP

Though it has annouced going solo in 2022 polls, it will be tough to win back its once loyal EBC/MBC vote, which BJP is trying best to retain and SP too is eyeing to cut into it via tie up with small parties.
Entry of Dalit youth icon Chandrashekhar Azad Rawan’s Azad Samaj Party, particularly in West UP has dented BSP’s core vote in village panchayat polls.

Firing of senior OBC leaders Lalji Verma and Ramachal Rajbhar from BSP hasn’t gone well with the Patel and Rajbhar caste voters.

New alliance between ex BJP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party and AIMIM might hurt BSP plans to woo back MBC and Muslim voters.

BSP leadership decision not to contest recent district panchayat chairperson and block pramukh polls helped ruling BJP win easily in many places. It has sent the message of BSP having indirectly backed BJP.

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