In the political wilderness for more than three decades, the Congress in Uttar Pradesh is trying hard to woo Dalits as well as Brahmins simultaneously in an attempt to carve out a political space for itself in the state where dominant regional parties the SP and BSP are struggling. However, the moves are also revealing the frictions within the party.
At AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s instance, a delegation of Congress leaders led by Maharashtra minister and the party’s SC department head Nitin Raut, state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu and AICC general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP P L Punia on Thursday visited Azamgarh, where a Dalit village head was shot allegedly by upper castes.
Satyamev Jayate (42), a first-time pradhan of Bansgaon, was shot dead last Friday, and the Dalits of the village have alleged that he was killed for refusing to kowtow to the Thakurs. An internal communication of the Uttar Pradesh Congress dated August 18 said the delegation was going to the village on the direction of Priyanka.
The Congress had been trying hard to woo the Scheduled Caste community in Uttar Pradesh for long but with little success. The attempts go back to the days when Rahul Gandhi used to tour the state regularly. While the aggression has upset the BSP — visible in Mayawati’s decision to reclaim her six MLAs from the Congress in Rajasthan, and her statements earlier this week mentioning the Congress while attacking the SP and BJP in the context of atrocities against Dalits — it is also revealing the factionalism within the Congress.
There is unease among a section of the Congress’s upper caste leadership, with some of them asking why the state Congress had not sent delegations to visit the families of Brahmins who have been killed. “It is fine that we have sent a delegation to Azamgarh, but why are we not sending similar delegations to meet the families of those from the Brahmin community who have been killed?” a leader said.
The leader pointed out that both the SP and BSP have lately begun an outreach to Brahmins and that the Congress should not lag behind.
While the SP has announced it will install a 108-foot statue of Parashuram in Lucknow, Mayawati has said that if elected to power in 2022, she will install an even taller statue of Parashuram.
In the Congress, former Union minister Jitin Prasada, the patron of the Brahmin Chetna Parishad, had been holding Brahmin Chetna Samvad on social media to discuss issues faced by the community and find solutions. Prasada had before the lockdown toured the state and met Brahmins who have lost their family members to murders or alleged custodial deaths. But he is said to be getting no support from the UPCC.
On the contrary, sources said, the state leadership is encouraging leaders like Acharya Pramod Krishnam and former Varanasi MP Rajesh Mishra to reach out to the Brahmin community, indicating factionalism within the party.