The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Friday reached out to the Brahmin community in Uttar Pradesh as part of its effort to grow its traditional voter base (composed mostly of Dalits) ahead of next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The party assured Brahmins that it would expedite the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya if it was voted to power in the assembly elections next year.
To be sure, work on the temple has gone on apace since the Supreme Court’s late 2019 order allowing the construction of the temple at what many believe to be the birthplace of Hindu God Ram. Brahmins account for 13% of the state’s population but wield considerable influence. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which governs the state, recently inducted former Congress leader Jitin Prasada , a Brahmin leader, into its ranks.
On Friday, launching a virtual statewide Brahmin conference in Ayodhya, BSP national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra raised questions over the funding of the temple and what he saw as a delay in its construction.
After the BSP was voted to power in 2007, the party constructed grand Dalit memorials at various spots in the state within one-and-half-years of forming the government, Mishra said.
After the party forms the government in 2022, Mishra added, “the BSP government will ensure the completion of the construction of the Ram Temple at the earliest”.
Accusing the BJP of politicising temple construction, Mishra said that Ram continued to remain in a makeshift temple even though the saffron party came to power at the Centre and state in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
On March 25 last year, the deity was relocated from the makeshift temple to a pre-fabricated structure within the Ram Janmabhoomi premises. The ceremony which was held on the first day of the nine-day Navratri festival was attended by chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Mishra also accused the BJP of keeping “local mahants, sadhus and priests (in Ayodhya) who have been associated with the Ram Temple movement” out of the loop.
Seeking more transparency in the construction work, Mishra alleged that the ruling party had deliberately slowed down the construction of the temple to serve its political interests.
Reacting to Mishra’s allegations against the ruling party, BJP state unit spokesperson Sameer Singh said: “The BSP has been promoting the politics of caste in Uttar Pradesh. The party has nothing to do with the dignity of the Hindu community or development of Hindu holy places. The Ram Temple is a symbol of faith and pride of the Hindu community. The BJP government is committed to the construction of the grand temple and work is underway in full swing. The chief minister has launched several projects for the development of Ayodhya and other Hindu religious spots in the state.”
The BSP national general secretary said the party will continue to hold Brahmin conferences at “holy places” including Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi, Chitrakoot and Shravasti, till October 15, adding that a massive one will be held in Lucknow.
The BSP formed a majority government in 2007 with the support of Brahmins and had allocated important positions to members of the community in the government and party organisation, he said.
Brahmins who constitute 13% of the state’s population, and Dalits who make up 23% of the population will ensure the formation of a majority BSP government again, he added.
Mishra also alleged that the Brahmins had been sidelined and that there was an increase in “atrocities” against the community under the BJP government.
“The time has come for t Brahmins to mull over their dignity, security and progress. They should support the BSP for a share in power,” he said.
Political analyst and former head of Political Science Department, Lucknow University, Professor SK Dewedi, said: “BSP’s efforts to woo the Brahmin voters with Ram temple card before the upcoming assembly elections is not going to pay much dividend in the polls. The Dalit memorials constructed during the BSP government is already under probe due to irregularities. The social engineering formula which brought BSP to power in 2007, it is not likely to evoke the same response from voters in the 2022 assembly elections.”