Home > Uncategorized > Guest Post by @SajaanoBanerjee: Strategy For Congress Revival in UP

Guest Post by @SajaanoBanerjee: Strategy For Congress Revival in UP

Congress revival strategy in Uttar Pradesh

 

There are enough indications that the general elections to elect the 16th Lok Sabha will be held in the summer of 2014. India has seen fourteen prime ministers, of which Uttar Pradesh alone has provided eight of them. Uttar Pradesh has 75 districts and 80 Lok Sabha constituencies. It has a population of about 210 million and 120 million voters. Thus there is enough empirical evidence to suggest that the road to Delhi is via Lucknow. The chief minister of Gujarat who nurses prime ministerial ambitions has planted his trusted confidante Amit Shah as the prabhari (in charge) of the BJP in UP. Caste has trumped religion decisively especially in the post 1989 Mandal scenario.

Caste Structure in Uttar Pradesh (figures in percentages)

Brahmins

12

Thakurs

7

Banias

2

Dalits*

25

Muslims

18

OBC**

34

Others

2

*Dalits include Jatavs, Chamars, Koris, Pasis etc

** OBCs include Yadavs, Lodhs, Kushwahas, Kurmis, Mauryas etc

In this column, I argue that the Brahmins who have been in the political wilderness since 1989 needs to be aggressively wooed by the Congress party. The political revival of the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh rests primarily on getting the Brahmins back into their fold. Uttar Pradesh has not seen a Brahmin Chief Minister since ND Tiwari way back in 1989. The Congress Party has given at least 4 Brahmins as chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh.

Brahmins are faced with a political vacuum and looking up to a party that can give back their self confidence and dignity. However if the Congress party has a five year, forward looking strategy, the homecoming of the Brahmins is a near certainty. The Congress is the only party which has given Brahmin Chief Ministers.

Despite loud proclamations of championing the Brahmin cause, the BJP has never appointed a Brahmin Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh – witness Rajnath Singh (Thakur), Ramprakash Gupta (Bania) and Kalyan Singh (Lodh, OBC). Both the SP and BSP are programmatically designed to not give the top posts in the party or government to anybody but Yadavs (in case of SP) and Chamars (in case of BSP). While both the BSP and SP are enticing the Brahmins, they can only share power and representation with these parties as king makers, but can never aspire to be kings. The BJP inspite of having a shrewd Thakur in Rajnath Singh as the national president of the BJP are getting the bulk of the Brahmin votes in successive elections. All this can change if the Congress can get its act together.

Why are Brahmins important in the poll calculus in Uttar Pradesh? Brahmins are 12% of UP’s population. Brahmins are facing a leadership vacuum in the state. They are looking for a leader/party that can capture their imagination and can safeguard and consolidate their interests. Apart from Muslims, Brahmins are another community who have powerful oratory skills and are opinion makers in the villages and cities of UP.

The current strategy of the Congress party in wooing OBC satraps like Beni Prasad Verma (Kurmis) is sure to backfire, as seen in the 2012 assembly elections. Narasimha Rao wrecked the Congress party when he frittered away two thirds of the Uttar Pradesh assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh in 1995. He ensured that the Dalits shifted their allegiance enmase to the BSP since then. Post the Babari Masjid demolition, Muslims have also left the party, briefly voting for it in 2009 to keep the BJP out of power.

The Congress was once considered the natural party of the Brahmins. There must be concerted efforts to win back their trust by reminding them of how their fortunes are intricately linked to the fortunes of the Congress party. In neighbouring Uttarakhand, the Congress had a choice of Harish Rawat (Thakur) to be made Chief Minister in 2002 and 2012. However on both occasions they chose ND Tiwari (2002) and Vijay Bahughuna (2012) – both are Brahmins. In Delhi another Brahmin, Sheila Dikshit has been the chief minister for nearly fifteen years.

The Congress must identify an astute Brahmin leader who can tour all the districts of Uttar Pradesh and get these political messages across to the Brahmins in carefully orchestrated Brahmin sammelans. The Congress must pursue this core and committed caste constituency, and the “plus votes” will follow. The original vote bank of the Congress has been a lethal combination of Brahmins, Dalits and Muslims. If Brahmins come back to the party, can Dalits (25%) and Muslims (18%) be far behind?

Get the Brahmins back, rejuvenate the party structure, and the Congress party will see the first signs of a revival in time for the 2017 elections. The people of Uttar Pradesh rejected the Congress in 2012 (in the absence of an organizational machinery in the state) because they were not seen as a credible alternative to the BSP. It is disappointing to see that the Congress scion has abandoned his constituency in Uttar Pradesh, post the electoral reverses in 2012. Rahul Gandhi must lead the charge and be the voice of the Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress is bound to be rewarded politically.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. sushilpershad
    August 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

    What Are You Trying To Tell Us . That Elections In UP Will Be Caste Based Rather Than Important Issue Of Development Healthcare Education Etc ,All The More reason That The Voters Are Enlightened To These Issues So That They Are Not Influenced Pseudo Secularist Self-serving Leaders !!

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