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BSP showcases its `Brahmin might'

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

Party had never been against upper castes or Hindu religion, says Mayawati

Photo: Subir Roy

WOOING BRAHMINS: The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, at a Brahmin Sammelan organised by the Bahujan Samaj Party in Lucknow on Thursday.

LUCKNOW: The Bahujan Samaj Party on Thursday imparted a new dimension to the caste-oriented politics of Uttar Pradesh by showcasing its growing influence among the Brahmin community through a ``Brahmin maha rally.'' The rally marked the culmination of about 50 ``Brahmin jodo sammelans'' (Brahmin enrolling conferences) that the BSP had held across the State in the past three months.

Addressing the rally, BSP president and former Chief Minister Mayawati said her party had never been against the upper caste communities or the Hindu religion. ``We were branded as anti-upper castes and anti-Hindu by manuvadi vested interests, including political parties and sections of the media.'' Her party was opposed only to discriminatory tendencies and attitudes such as caste oppression.

Ms. Mayawati said her party had been making concerted efforts to propagate this understanding and these efforts had started showing results in the past few months, especially among Brahmins. The positive appreciation of the BSP among Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh would be beneficial to the community in electoral terms because the party leadership had decided to give more ticket to the community in the coming elections, she added.

Greeted with rituals

As she arrived at the rally venue, Ms. Mayawati was greeted with Brahmanical rituals. A group of priests chanted Vedic hymns and blowed conches while the Brahmin leaders of the BSP, including Sudhir Chandra Mishra, Rajya Sabha member and the chief organiser of the rally, presented her gifts, including a silver axe, mythical weapon of Lord Parashuram, who has emerged as a new icon in the BSP's Brahmin conferences.

Mr. Mishra said Ms. Mayawati had done much more to protect and uplift the social and political dignity of Brahmins than the leadership of parties such as the Congress and the BJP.

It may be too early to predict the impact of this Brahmin-oriented initiative of the BSP, but there are signs that it has created a threat perception among other parties. The new public holiday announced by Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav recently for ``Parshuram Jayanti'' on May 11 is apparently a reaction to the BSP initiative.

The BSP effort is obviously based on the political calculation that a Brahmin-Dalit combination, along with Muslim support, would bolster its chances.

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