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Appeasement of Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh bypolls with an eye on 2022 elections?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

While the second phase of Bihar state elections has ended on November 3 and may prove crucial, bypolls held alongside in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and many other places too are not without significance. If they will decide the future of the Madhya Pradesh government, where the Congress rule fell in March 2020 after several of its Congress MLAs switched over to BJP, in Uttar Pradesh they will reflect the public mood for the 2022 elections in the state.
Fight for Brahmin votes in Uttar Pradesh shows how political parties have gone bankrupt on the ideological front. During elections one should appeal to all segments of society, but the way Uttar Pradesh parties have gone out of the way to woo Brahmins proves that all parties feel this one community can make and unmake a leader.
One has only to see how this is happening Deoria, one of the most important districts of Uttar Pradesh. It was a bigger districts which was bifurcated. A new district, Kushinagar, where Buddha died, was carved out by Mayawati, when she was the chief minister to promote the Buddha’s legacy.
Deoria district has over 17 lakh voters with 52% OBCs, 14% Muslims, 15% scheduled castes voters. The 'general' or the savarna (dominant caste) voters are 19%, but politics of the district is dominated by the savarnas, particularly Brahmins and Kayasthas. Deoria Sadar is the assembly constituency where voting took place on November 3 because of the death of Janmejay Singh, a Rajput.
This time, all the major parties in fray have given tickets to Brahmin candidates. Whether it is BJP, Samajwadi Party, BSP or Congress, all of them could not find a 'suitable' candidate from any other community. If this not 'casteism' what what is it? BJP has fielded Dr Satya Prakash Tripathi, while the Samajwadi Party has given ticket to Brahmashankar Tripathi. The Bahujan Samaj Party's candidate is Abhaynath Tripathi and the Congress candidate is Mukund Bhaskar Mani Tripathi.
Deoria has rarely been able to elect a non-savarna candidate -- a strange compulsion that political parties are not even thinking of mobilising different communities and their issues. Deoria remains one of the most backward districts with a large number of Mushahars (a tribal-turned-Dalit community found in the eastern Gangetic plain and the Terai), fisher folk and backward Muslims. Yet political leadership of the four major parties have rarely thought of this. What is the compulsion of political forces to opt for Brahmins, and that too with a particular variety, Tripathi?
While one may wish that these elections spring some surprises, for the people who are victims of caste oppression in Deoria, it does not matter which of the Tripathi wins
One might celebrate some day the victory of this or that party, but the Brahmins will have the 'cake', whether it is BJP, SP, BSP or Congress. Is this the new 'enlightenment' or way to revive Brahmanism, or have our parties gone completely bankrupt ideologically? I am not suggesting that political parties should not give ticket to savaranas or Brahmins. All I am suggesting is, how come, all parties find suitable candidates in just one particular community? Is not it an 'appeasement' of Brahmins?
Deoria appears to have become the symbolism of UP's politics to bring Brahmins back to the political fold. Bramins are 11% of the state population, and after Dalits, it is suggested, they constitute the second biggest chunk. But more than that it their 'influence' which considered important. Right from the loudspeakers on our TV studios to editors at our newspapers, they are in bureaucracy, police and all the services.
All the temples are their exclusive domain, and that reflects their power. While BJP and Congress are traditional parties of Brahmins and their domination, Samajwadi Party and BSP vying for Brahmin votes suggests they seem to have realised that their road to power will be impossible without Brahmin 'goodwill'. One wishes one could understand the Phulel-Ambedkar-Periyar legacy in social movements in political processes, too.
Uttar Pradesh has had a strong Ambedkarite movement. But unfortunately, at the moment, the movement is not in a position to guide BSP, while Samajwadi Party does not have such outfits which can speak of the Phule-Ambedkar-Periyar legacy. 
While one may wish that these elections spring some surprises, for the people who are victims of caste oppression in Deoria, it does not matter which of the Tripathi wins. Their candidature suggests that Brahmins in UP will remain at the top of political structure in the coming days. Indeed, the bypolls reflect the compulsions and ideological failures of our political parties.
---
*Human rights defender

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