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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Cong rethinks strategy of wooing Brahmins in UP

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 19, 2013
First Published: 00:25 IST(19/5/2013) | Last Updated: 02:18 IST(19/5/2013)

Alarmed over the recent jostling among political parties to woo Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress too has joined the race.

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Brahmins were Congress’s traditional votebank till late 1980s when during the Ram Janambhoomi movement they shifted loyalty to the BJP. Muslims and Dalits, which formed a solid vote base for the Congress, also moved away from it.

The party’s hopes of winning back the support of these communities were rekindled with its performance in 2009 Lok Sabha elections when it won 21 out of the total 80 seats in the state. But it lost the tempo in 2012 and managed to win just 28 out of the total 403 assembly seats.

Congress leaders argue that the voting trend changes in assembly and Lok Sabha polls. “Voters prefer regional parties in assembly polls which are fought on local issues while they throw their weight behind national parties in parliamentary elections,” a Congress leader said.

Brahmins, which constitute 12% of UP’s population and are a deciding factor in 25 Lok Sabha seats, are high on the agenda of political parties.

The Congress is reworking its strategy and as a possible measure contemplating adequate representation to Brahmins in ticket distribution. “Brahmins are traditionally Congress minded. They are looking for status, respect and representation which only Congress can give,” Union minister Jitin Prasada said.

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