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BJP Attempts to Woo Brahmins in UP Over Perceived Caste Imbalance

Interestingly, the two leaders chosen to placate the Brahmins in UP are from Poorvanchal region. Again, former Minister of State, HRD, Mahendra Pandey, who is the newly appointed Uttar Pradesh BJP chief, is being replaced by Shiv Prakash Shukla, another Brahmin leader from Gorakhpur.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:September 3, 2017, 8:36 AM IST
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BJP Attempts to Woo Brahmins in UP Over Perceived Caste Imbalance
File photo of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CMs Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya (via Getty Images)
New Delhi: Appointment of two Brahmin leaders, one as state president and the other as a Union minister, attempts to address the worry within BJP over its core upper caste vote base in a state which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

The nominations come less than six months after BJP chose to hand over the reins of Uttar Pradesh to Gorakhnath Mutt Mahant, Yogi Adityanath, who has a Brahim-Rajput origin.

Interestingly, the two leaders chosen to placate the Brahmins in UP are from Poorvanchal region. Again, former Minister of State, HRD, Mahendra Pandey, who is the newly appointed Uttar Pradesh BJP chief, is being replaced by Shiv Prakash Shukla, another Brahmin leader from Gorakhpur.

Yogi Adityanath, as the head of the Gorakhnath Peeth, has his own fan following in the region, especially in East UP. Parallel to that in the battle of perception, he's also seen as a Rajput leader. The latter image of Yogi is subterranean, emanating from the traditional Brahmin-Rajput fault lines of upper castes in state politics. The last few heads of the Gorakhnath Peeth have all been Rajputs from Uttarakhand.

The other factor which could have forced BJP to take countervailing measures could be its emphasis and reliance on backward castes, especially the Most Backward Caste (MBC) votes to win UP.

Top MBC leaders were roped in by party leaders and allocated plum portfolios. Brahmins, who constitute more than 10 percent of the total votes in UP, shifted en-block to the party post-Mandal Commission phase, may have felt a little squeezed in the new scheme of things.

Most of the MBCs traditionally have been part of Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) social coalition built of core Dalit votes.

While the jostling within BJP has manifested itself many a times in the last few months, the murder of five Brahmins of a family at Uchahar in Rae Bareilly, recently led to a war of words between two ministers in the Yogi government — one a Brahmin and the other from an MBC community.

BJP's urgent bid to reach out to its core constituencies in UP is apparent from the fact that the current reshuffle has not tried to address the sub-regional imbalances in power sharing.

Union minister of micro, small and medium enterprises, Kalraj Mishra, also met with PM Narendra Modi and submitted his resignation on Saturday. He is a Brahmin leader from eastern UP, who has been dropped.

Now the chief minister, state party unit chief and a new minister, all are from eastern UP. Deputy CM Keshav Maurya is again from the same region, while the other deputy to Yogi, Dinesh Sharma, is from Lucknow.

Western UP has been given a berth in the Union Council with the appointment of Satyapal Singh, the Baghpat MP. However, he may only be a replacement to Sanjiv Balyan, the Jat Lok Sabha member from Muzaffarnagar, who may be asked to work for the organisation.
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