Brahmins wary of Mayawati
Prashant Pandey Posted online: Fri Jan 13 2012, 00:17 hrs
Allahabad : Brahman shankh bajaayega, haathi aage jaayega (the Brahmin
will blow the conch and the elephant will march forward)" was one of
the slogans of the BSP, which successfully experimented with "social
engineering" by bringing together Dalits and Brahmins — the two
opposite poles of the Hindu caste order — in the 2007 Assembly polls.
Five years later, the conch blowers are reportedly feeling let down,
and are even angry, with the elephant rider.
"Hum shankh hee bajaate reh gaye, aur haathi aage chala gaya (We kept
blowing the conch and the elephant went ahead of us)," said Girish
Chandra Mishra, president of the Kanyakubj Bhramin Sabha (Prayag), in
Leaders of Brahmin organisations allege that Satish Chandra Misra, the
BSP's Brahmin face, could not go beyond being just the face and the
party, too, did not look beyond him.
"Brahmins did not join the BSP happily or just because Satish Chandra
Misra gave a call. But because at that point, there was no option.
Traditionally, we were with the Congress. Then many were swayed
towards the BJP. But these two parties were nowhere to be seen in
2007. And the regime of Samajwadi Party was all about lawlessness and
goondaism. Jaaye to jaaye kahan (after all, where do we go)?"
explained Girish Chandra Mishra.
But after getting power, the BSP started taking the Brahmins for
granted, while Misra, the community's sole link with the party and the
government, became inaccessible, it's alleged.
Rameshwar Dayal Dikshit, national president of Kendriya Brahmin Sabha,
a pan-Indian organisation, said: "Initially, Satish Chandra Misra held
meetings and promised several things. But later, the meetings became
very few and, over a period of time, he even became incommunicado over
phone. All this while, his family members got plum posts." Dikshit
added, "I refused to meet Chief Minister Mayawati even when she
invited me, because of the complaints I had heard about upper caste
people being made to sit on the floor in her presence."
Interestingly, Mayawati, in her speech in November last year at a
Brahmin rally, took pains to explain the benefits she had given to
Satish Chandra Misra's family members and relatives for their services
to the party. She said this in an attempt to dispel the notion that
Misra and the community were sidelined by her.
The community's expectations were, however, not addressed. As Girish
Chandra put it: "Be it reservation on economic basis or education for
poor Brahmins, the government did absolutely nothing. Imams are paid
salaries, why can't the purohits be paid too? There are special
hostels where SC/ST children can study to compete for government jobs.
Why can't the same facility be given to poor Brahmin children?"
Incidentally, while the community is unhappy, none of the parties is
wooing them. Instead, they are busy talking to the OBCs, SC/ST and the
MBCs. The BSP has made some overtures, of late, but these do not seem
to have cut much ice.
"We don't want to go with regional parties. They seldom rise above
their own community," said Girish Chandra.
That leaves only the BJP and the Congress. But according to Dikshit
there's infighting in the BJP. "Also, after Atalji fell ill, Brahmins'
interests are not being properly heard by the BJP," he said, adding
that the Congress may emerge as the "last option" because of its
national character and traditional appeal. "But I can't ask everybody
to vote for a particular party," he added.
There is talk of Brahmins getting organised and asserting themselves.
In Varanasi, Sarvjan Mahasabha, a forum that is now a registered
political party and comprises largely Brahmins, has fielded three
candidates. Its candidate from Varanasi (Cantt) Col Ranjeet Upadhyaya
credits Mayawati for being able to control mafias, but the fact that
she did not do anything for the community disturbs him.
"Earlier, the society used to take care of Brahmins — through
religious patronage — but now they have to fend for themselves,"
As for BSP's 'sarvajan hitay' slogan, he said: "Will they now teach us
'sarvjan hitay'? The Brahmin has never worked only for his or his
community's interests. He has always worked for the society as a
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