The second phase of Bihar state elections is crucial. That apart, we have by polls in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and many other places. These bypolls too are crucial for the survival of the government in Madhya Pradesh after the swtich over of the Congress MLAs to BJP. Uttar Pradesh bypolls are also important as it will reflect the public mood for the 2022 elections in the state.
The fight for the brahmin votes in Uttar Pradesh show how political parties have really gone bannkrupt on their ideologies. While in the elections you have to appeal to all segments of societies but the way Uttar Pradesh parties have gone ‘dandwat’ or have prostrated to the Brahmins prove one fact that all parties feel that this one community can make and unmake a leader.
One small example will prove how political parties actually sideline their own leaders coming from the margins. Deoria is one of the most important districts of Uttar Pradesh. It was a big district which was bifurcated and Kushinagar, where Buddha died, was carved out by Ms Mayawati when she was the chief minister to promote the Buddhist place. Deoria district have over 17 lakh voters with 52% OBCs, 14% Muslims, 15% scheduled castes voters. The ‘general’ or the savarna voters are 19% but the politics of the district is dominated by the Savarnas particularly the Brahmins and Kayasthas. Now, Deoria Sadar is going to vote today as the seat got vacated due to the death of its elected representative Janmejay Singh, a Rajput, who died in August this year. Now this time, all the major parties in the frey have given tickets to Brahmin candidates. Whether it is BJP, Samajwadi Party, BSP or Congress, all of them could not find ‘suitable’ candidates from other communities. Is this not ‘casteism’. Ofcourse, you wont blame to any particular party for spreading this absolutely filth and garbage where you dont allow other communities to come up despite the known facts that other communities matter.
BJP has fielded Dr Satya Prakash Tripathi while the Samajwadi Party has given ticket to Barhmashankar Tripathi and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s candidate is Abhaynath Tripathi. Congress candidate is Mr Mukund Bhaskar Mani Tripathi. Should not we all decry this ? How can the political parties function in such a cynical way that they deny people even a right to choose that Deoria has rarely been able to elect a non savarna candidate. What is this compulsion that political parties are not even thinking of mobilising the different communities and their issues. Deoria remain one of the most backward districts with a large number of Mushahars, fisher folks and even backward muslims yet political leadership of the four major parties rarely thought of this. Is it because the Savarna intellectuals and their political masters are not taking anything lightly. What is the compulsion of political forces to opt for brahmins and that too with a particular variety called as Tripathi.
So, we might celebrate some other day the victory of this party or that party but the bramins will have the ‘cake’ with them whether it is BJP, SP, BSP or Congress. Is this the new ‘enlightenment’ or way to revive brahmanism or our parties have gone completely bankcrupt ideologically. I am not suggesting that parties should not give ticket to savaranas or brahmins. All I am suggesting, how come, all the parties, find suitable candiadates in one particular community ? Where are the caste consideration then which we all speak so much ? Is not it an ‘appeasment’ of the brahmins ?
My understanding is that Deoria has become the symbolism of UP’s politics to bring brahmins back to their fold. Bramins are 11% of the state population and after the Dalits, it is suggested that they constitute the big chunk but more than that their ‘influence’ is powerful. Rigiht from the loudspeakers on our TV studios and editors at our newspapers, they are in bureacracy, police and all the services. Ofcourse, all the temples are their exclusive domain and that reflect their power. While BJP and Congress are traditional parties of the brahmins and their domination, the Samajwadi and BSP’s vying for the brahmin votes seems to come from this realisation that their road to power will be impossible without the ‘goodwill’ of the brahmins. That is the only reason, I wish we had Phulel-Ambedkar-Periyar legacy in the social movements who could have guided the political powers and not the other way round. Uttar Pradesh definitely 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 Phule-Ambedkar-Periyar legacy. Perhaps, mainstream parties in Uttar Pradesh would avoid Periyar for the political purposes and that happen because of apolitical nature of our political forces.
Anyway, wish these elections spring some surprise but my only suggestions to parties not to make their voters depress further by not allowing them a suitable candidate. For people victim of caste oppression and subjugation in Deoria, it does not matter whether this Tripathi win or that Tripathi. The fact is it is their caste identity that matter and not their ‘ideology’. Can political parties do the same kind of thing in a reserve constituency or with OBC candiate. Can we see all major political parties giving ticket to a Yadav or a Chamar in one constituency. They will never do it and play the dividing game. It suggest that while other castes can be divided, the brahmins can divide parties but not their caste identity. In UP, Brahmins will remain at the top of any political structure in the coming days and these elections have reflected the compulsions and ideological failures of our political parties.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity