Sidelined,Thakurs want to be politically counted

Thakur community in Uttar Pradesh is frustrated to find themselves ignored by major political parties that are wooing voters from OBC,SC/ST,Most Backward Castes and Muslims in the run-up to the Assembly polls in the state.

Written by Prashant Pandey | Allahabad | Published: January 23, 2012 5:31 am

Thakur community in Uttar Pradesh is frustrated to find themselves ignored by major political parties that are wooing voters from OBC,SC/ST,Most Backward Castes and Muslims in the run-up to the Assembly polls in the state. Thakur leaders are therefore spreading the word among the community members not to tow the line of any party or leader and urging them to assert their presence by contesting as Independents.

In terms of tickets,the community has been overlooked by every major political party. “The BSP has given tickets to around 35,while the BJP too has given tickets to around the same number of Thakur candidates. And Congress is only talking about OBCs and Dalits,” said Vishnu Saran Singh (Pujariji),national general secretary of All-India Kshatriya Mahasabha (AIKM),an organisation representing the community across India.

The other major upper caste,the Brahmins,has at least managed to get some good numbers of candidates nominated by BSP,which is,however,less compared to the nominees filed by Mayawati in the last Assembly polls.

Coming back to Thakurs; the lack of the presence of a leader,who can claim to be genuinely representing the Thakurs is the other big issue faced by the community. Big names,like Digvijay Singh in Congress and Rajnath Singh in BJP,exist. But they do not seem to be cutting much ice within the community. “One of them (Digvijaya) has been reduced to the role of making strange statements,while the other (Rajnath) has been sidelined within his own party,” said Saran.

There was a section of the community,which had remained attached with the Samajwadi Party due to Amar Singh. But with the former SP leader himself looking for political ground after he parted ways with SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav,the community is looking for a leader having a strong base. “Even Amar Singh was used by the SP and discarded when the family members of Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP supremo) began asserting themselves,” said Saran.

Some of the other big names from the community,like Brijesh Singh and his kin,and Dhananjay Singh,fall in the category of “bahubali” and have been associated with corruption and criminality. The community,therefore,is wary of associating too much with such elements,having their presence largely in Purvanchal region.

Two recent instances,which have taken place in the mainstream parties,have come as stinging reminders that they are just not being favoured.

One of them is removal of Samajwadi Party national spokesperson Mohan Singh from his post at the instance of state SP president Akhilesh Yadav. Singh had made a comment apparently in favour of D P Yadav,the strongman from western UP. Akhilesh was against his induction into the party and making a statement that was perceived to be against Akhilesh’ view cost Mohan Singh his job.

“What was his fault? He only made a statement. Mohan Singh’s political experience must be more than the young leader’s total age. He had worked with the stalwarts like Lohia,” said Vishnu Saran,who has known Mohan Singh since his days in Allahabad University. “Both of us were part of the students’ union in close succession,” he said.

The other instance is Narendra Singh Gaur of BJP being denied party ticket from Allahabad (North) seat. the party chose Uday Bhan Karwaria in place of Gaur. Thakur leaders recently held a meeting in Allahabad passing a resolution to protest against the BJP for not giving ticket to Gaur. The issue of no Thakur candidate being given ticket in the entire Allahabad region was also raised during the issue.

Gaur,a former minister in the BJP government,may not have a high profile and had lost in the last election,but is highly respected and has a clean image. To have him unceremoniously replaced with Uday Bhan Karwaria,who has criminal antecedents,was something the community has not taken kindly to.

“If winning the last election were indeed the criteria,then why Keshri Nath Tripathi (also from the BJP) wasn’t denied ticket from Allahabad (South)? He too had lost last time?” asked Devendra Kumar Singh,a social worker,now preparing to contest as an independent candidate from Charkhari Assembly constituency in Mahoba district of Bundelkhand region.

Devendra Singh’s move is part of the Mahasabha’s plan to revive the community’s sagging political position. It is now planning to field Independents from the community in as many places as possible. “Varchasva khota jaa raha hai,usko banaaye rakhne ke liye kuchch karna to padega (We are losing the upper hand. Something needs to be done to keep it intact),” said Saran. He conceded,however,that at one level it was a battle for survival as a community,along with other forward castes like Brahmins and Vaishyas.

Meetings have been held in Mahoba,Hamirpur,Jalaun,Lalitpur and Banda districts of Bundelkhand on the issue. “We are asking our community members not to support or wait for any party. Rather,they should help in promoting people with clean image,who will contest as Independents,” said Saran,adding that it is high time the community stopped being “pichhlaggu (second fiddle)”. He conceded,however,that it was move that was still in its infancy.

In Mahoba,for instance,it has got in touch with Pushpendra Singh Chandel,who had lost the elections last time contesting on BJP ticket. “He is a man with clean image. But the BJP is believed to have proposed the name of tainted and expelled BSP minister Badshah Singh,” said Vishnu Saran.

Saran cited history to stress how the Thakur community has been losing its political space since Independence bit-by-bit,largely owing to the votebank politics. “But apart from just instigating the lower castes,they have done nothing. Where is the development?” he asked.

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