31/08/2020 1:35 PM IST

UP Govt's Flip-Flop Over Guns And Brahmins Points To Trouble For Yogi Adityanath

Reports say that the Yogi Adityanath government sought to know this information and then backtracked in reply to a query by a BJP MLA in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in a file photo. 

Even as the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh faces opposition from several of its cabinet members and other political parties over alleged “atrocities” on Brahmins, a new report suggests that the government sent out (and later backtracked on) a letter to all district magistrates in the state asking for the number of Brahmins who applied for and acquired arms licences. 

The Indian Express reported that the letter, in response to a query to the UP assembly by BJP MLA Devmani Dwivedi on the alleged “killing” of Brahmins in the state, was sent on August 18. It asked for submission of the details by August 21. 

The report said that the letter was signed by under secretary to the home department Prakash Chandra Agarwal, who declined to comment on it and said that this was no longer being pursued. 

The Indian Express report quoted from the letter: “How many Brahmins applied for arms licences and how many were issued. Please provide this information point-wise with supplementary material by August 21, 2020 on e-mail.” 

It said at least one district had sent the data to the government. 

The report comes a day after a visibly upset Adityanath told his party members to resolve differences among each other as several BJP lawmakers in the state have criticised their own government over the issue of “persecution” of Brahmins. 

Deccan Herald quoted Adityanath as saying, “The attacks by the BJP lawmakers have dealt a severe blow to the image of the party and the state government.” 

The remarks were made at a meeting in Gorakhpur. 

Dissent in party over Brahmin issue 

Apart from opposition parties in the state, which have alleged that Brahmins are being targeted, members of the BJP too have attacked the Yogi Adityanath government over the issue. 

Brahmins are a significant part of BJP’s vote bank in the state and are also supporters of BJP’s Hindutva agenda in a state where caste politics plays a huge role in electing governments. 

The ire has been mainly directed against Adityanath, who belongs to the Thakur caste. 

News18 had reported on August 18 about MLA Dwivedi asking questions to the assembly on the alleged killings of Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh. 

The report had said that he sought to find out how many Brahmins were killed over the past three years and information on how many of the killers were caught and were punished. 

The MLA had also sought data on granting of arms licences to Brahmins. 

Dwivedi is not alone. Adityanath’s comments in Gorakhpur on Sunday came after MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal had accused the government on being casteist. Meanwhile, MP Ravi Kishan sought MLA Agarwal’s resignation

Agarwal was served a show cause notice for a tweet against his own government. 

Posters against Adityanath, who came to power in 2017 after the BJP won 312 of the 403 assembly seats in UP, cropped up in Lucknow last week. The posters depicted Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav as the “saviour of Brahmins”. 

What triggered this? 

Reports say that the opposition’s push to acquire Brahmin votes began after anger in the community over the killing of gangster Vikas Dubey in an alleged encounter. 

More recently, gangster Rakesh Pandey was also killed by the special task force in UP. 

Pushkar Misra, who is convenor of BJP’s Policy Research Department Uttar Pradesh and member of the state executive, told The Wire in July, “The issue is not about an individual but the perception. In the wake of the brazen handling of the Vikas Dubey episode and others, there is a sense of alienation, marginalisation, and oppression among the Brahmins who traditionally have not felt like they are a suppressible class and with their unsuppressible history their restlessness is increasing.”  

Opposition parties have cashed in on this resentment by stoking the resentment and also promising better treatment for Brahmins, a dominant caste in the state which makes up around 10% of the electorate.

While the Congress is trying to unite all Brahmins under its “Brahmin Chetna Parishad” led by Jitin Prasada,  the Samajwadi Party has promised a 108-feet Parashuram statue if it comes to power. BSP’s Mayawati, meanwhile, promised that she will build a statue even bigger than the one promised by SP.