Friday, April 18, 2014

Do caste and community matter in cosmopolitan Lucknow?

Lucknow: Do caste and community matter in the Lok Sabha election here and how is BJP president Rajnath Singh who is contesting the seat coping with the issue? Many of the middle-rung party functionaries at Singh’s election office tried to evade the question saying that Lucknow is a city, an urban constituency, and 70 per cent of the people are educated and therefore caste and community do not count when it comes to choosing a candidate. They also argued that there is a Modi wave, and people in Lucknow will vote not for Rajnath Singh or even for the BJP but for Modi.
They did not however show much resistance in the course of conversation to count the different communities and their numbers in Lucknow. According to their estimates, there are a lakh of Yadavs, two lakh Muslims, including Shias and Sunnis and with the Sunnis in majority, the Brahmins accounted for three lakh to 3.5 lakh. The Kayasthas followed with a strength of 2.5 lakh. The Banias stood at two lakh. There were 60,000 to 70,000 Rajputs, the Dalits were 30,000, the Lodhis and Bhinds 50,000. There were one lakh Pahadis (from the hills in Uttarakhand) settled in Lucknow. There is the further caste break-up of the Pahadi settlers, of whom 50 per cent are Brahmins and the rest Rajputs.
The party workers also narrate that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won over the Muslims in the city because he made peace between the Shias and Sunnis over the Moharram procession, and therefore the Muslims are not hostile to the BJP. Many of them, especially the Shias had voted for Vajpayee. They also say that the Muslim educated class, and the Shia intellectuals in particular, are not opposed to the BJP. The workers also sense that 90 per cent of the Muslims, most of whom are artisans and labourers, are seeking development and good governance and they are not swayed by communal concerns.
The calculation is that all of the Kayasths, 90 per cent of the Banias are with the BJP. It is felt that not all of the Brahmin vote will come to the BJP, and some of it will be split between the BSP and Congress. Among the Muslims, the Sunnis, the BJP workers say, will vote for Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Shias will go with the BJP.
At the end of all the detailed caste and community calculations on the vote share of BJP and the others, the party workers say that Rajnath Singh will win because of the Modi wave. “If there is a higher voter turnout, the victory margin will be larger. If the voter turnout is less, then the victory margin will be reduced,” they say, giving way to a sense of realism

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