New Delhi: With the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expanding its social base by giving more representation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) groups in the government architecture, its organizational set-up and policy decisions, there are occasional outbursts against the party on social media by upper castes. Many have argued that it might lead to alienation of the upper castes from the BJP which used to form the fulcrum of the party since the Mandir movement. The Sunday Guardian tried to talk to scholars of the Hindutva movement to trace what’s the ground situation and whether upper castes are still with the BJP or there’s a churning or alienation from the party.
“I don’t see the upper castes deserting the BJP anytime soon, the party is their best bet in a cost-benefit analysis because of multiple factors,” Vikas Pathak, a political analyst who had written extensively on the Hindutva movement and the BJP, said. “The upper castes are getting real representation in power, their representation is not going down, in the process which you say Mandalisation of Kamandal, now there’s a symbolic acceptance of Hinduism by the other caste groups who used to challenge it during the Mandal wave of the 1990s and with the rise of BSP. It is like a reconciliatory project. The Mandal movement of 1990s attacked the symbolic status of upper castes, but the Hindutva project of BJP since 2014 is about symbolic acceptance of Hinduism by everyone; therefore, upper castes will remain with the BJP as of now, the relationship between Mandal and kamandal is a give and take relationship. The upper castes are getting their share which was absent during the rule of regional parties and at the same time in this process, lower OBCs are getting larger representation not at the cost of upper castes,” he added.
In the 2019 Lok sabha elections, the BJP filed 88 upper castes candidates out of whom 80 won, interestingly it was the highest representation of upper castes from the cow belt since the 1984 elections. According to the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS) survey, upper castes like Brahmins, Bhumihars and Rajputs voted between 82-89% for the BJP in the 2019 general elections. Realising the importance of upper caste votes and their occasional attack on the BJP, other political parties like Indian National Congress (INC), Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (United) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are trying hard to bring them under their fold in the politically significant states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with the Congress focusing on Brahmins, JDU appointing Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, as its national president, BSP organizing Brahmins’ meet in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election and Akhilesh Yadav, the supremo of the Samajwadi Party, promising to built Parsuram temples in Uttar Pradesh.
When the Vikas Dubey encounter happened, political parties latched onto it to woo the Brahmin community as it looked for some time that the community was feeling victimised and alienated from the ruling dispensation, in which there was no strong Brahmin leader. Many Brahmins on social media demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, calling him anti-Brahmin. But it all was a temporary outburst. “The Vikas Dubey episode has lost significance with time, the question of representation and symbolic acceptance looms large for the upper castes,” Sumit K Jha from the University of Delhi told The Sunday Guardian. “Since 1989, only under BJP, the upper castes are getting a lion’s share in ticket distribution in the Assembly and parliamentary polls; why would they leave them with the chances of Congress not bright in the cow belt,” he added.