Vikas Dubey’s Encounter Killing Has Alienated Brahmins In Uttar Pradesh
Gangster's Death Projected As A Murder By The State... It Is A Collective Grievance And Has Ignited A Caste War
Following the encounter killing of Vikas Dubey, UP is abuzz with talk of Thakur raj, or the state being in the hands of the Rajput community. This has the potential to alienate other upper castes, mainly the Brahmins, and even Banias. Together with the Thakurs, the two upper castes have formed the core base of BJP’s politics in Uttar Pradesh.
Brahmin chauvinism (and a sense of injustice) comes through in social media discussions on the encounter killing. Dubey is now projected as a Brahmin ‘tiger’, a ‘descendant’ of God Parshuram — the sixth avatar of Vishnu. His violent death is painted as another ‘atrocity’ on the community under ‘Thakur’ Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister.
Brahmins of UP were hurt following the BJP’s victory and installation of a Thakur Chief Minister in 2017. The Dubey encounter is now projected as a murder by the state. It is a collective grievance.
BJP leaders are suddenly not speaking too much on Dubey, with the party holding its cards very close to its chest in Uttar Pradesh. The din created by the events in Rajasthan, where young Sachin Pilot has attempted to rock the Congress boat, has helped the BJP divert attention from the UP gangster’s killing.
Suddenly, all players in the opposition in UP are wooing Brahmins. In his death, Vikas Dubey has ignited a caste war.
This spate of political activity coincides with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s decision to move base to Lucknow, the city she intends to make the centre of her efforts to revive a paralysed Congress party in UP. The Dubey encounter killing is a gift for her as she relies on a similar perceived sense of injustice among Muslims and Dalits.
Till about three decades ago, Uttar Pradesh’s Brahmins were strongly entrenched in the Congress camp. They are Uttar Pradesh’s most educated caste group and a large section recalls the political clout the Congress party enjoyed in its heydays.
That was until the Mandal and Kamandal waves swept across the country’s Hindi speaking cow belt. But the Bhramins have also exhibited the political astuteness of siding with Mayawati’s BSP, voting her into power with thumping support. (Mayawati’s slogan ‘haati-nahai-Ganesh-hei; Bhrama-Vishnu-Mahesh-hei’, alluding to her party’s election symbol, the elephant, had found takers across class and demography in the community.)
Today, the Congress’ Brahmin face in the state is Jatin Prasada. “We have all seen many people from our (Brahmin) society have been brutally murdered,” Prasada observed in a tweet. The victim card and the playing of the grievance are telling. Prasada has hinted to party workers to carry forward this line of communication across the state.
The Congress’ prospects, however, depend on how Priyanka mobilises forces and revitalises the party.
BSP chief Mayawati, too, sees an opportunity. Her tweet on Sunday was aimed at the Brahmins. “The BSP believes that the entire community of a person who committed a crime should not be tortured and put in the dock as a punishment for his crime,” she wrote, advising the government to desist from making the community feel scared, terrorised or insecure.
But the Dalits of UP seem to have had enough of Mayawati. The BJP is sure UP’s Dalits will not desert it. With the Thakurs firmly by its side today, the BJP’s electoral calculus revolves around keeping the Dalits and the OBCs in good humour.
The only one who can throw a spanner in the works is the young Chandrashekhar Azad, alias Ravan of Bhim Army fame, who recently launched his political party — Azad Samaj Party. He can break Dalit votes, relegate Samajwadi Party to a party of Yadavs alone and give nightmares to the Congress and the BJP.