Poll strategist Prashant Kishor Pandey, who is managing the Congress’ election strategy in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, wants more representation for Brahmins. However, it is not clear whether Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is willing to do that as a greater Brahmin representation is likely to come at the cost of Dalits and Muslims. Brahmins, who constitute roughly 11% of the total population in UP, had been a trusted vote-bank of the Congress till 15-20 years ago, when they drifted away apprently because of Congress’ appeasement of Muslims and Dalits.
However, Congress’ attempts to woo the Muslims and Dalits have fallen flat as they have been voting for the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party respectively. “The Muslims, the Dalits are unlikely to leave the SP and BSP. The Thakurs are openly supporting the BJP. So Kishor has realised that his best bet lies in bringing the Brahmins back to the Congress fold. The Brahmins have always had a soft corner for the Congress, but after the departure of Sitaram Kesari as the Congress president, they have been relegated to the back seat,” said a Congress functionary, who has been interacting with Kishor’s team in UP.
A member of Prashant Kishor’s team said that every other political party in UP has a caste base, except the Congress and hence it makes sense to attract the Brahmins.