Dhananjay Tiwari is the traditional BJP supporter. He works as a driver of a private car company and is a Brahmin who is very much aware that he is a Brahmin. But on May 3, when Varanasi goes to the hustings, he wants to teach the BJP a lesson.
“The party has been taking us for granted. The leaders make promises and nothing happens after we’ve voted.”
But what has upset many like Tiwari is the pre-poll alliance that the BJP has made with Sone Lal Patel’s Apna Dal.
“This is the same man who only a few months ago was telling people to teach the Brahmins a lesson,” says Ashok Singh, sitting in his food shop on the way to the Dasashwamedh Ghat.
“I’ll vote for the BJP in the parliamentary elections, but in the state I’m voting BSP this time.”
The Apna Dal may not be a significant force in the UP elections, but the BJP’s tie-up with a party representing the Patel-Kurmis is making many supporters do the unthinkable: ‘vote Dalit’.
It is another matter that Mayawati has been wooing Brahmins by propping up Thakurs as candidates. But a section of BJP voters are planning to vote for the BSP not because of Mayawati’s newfound love for the upper castes but for, in the words of Tiwari, the BJP’s “stupidity in tying up with Sone Lal Patel”.
By extension, Mayawati is also being seen in a different light. “During her government, all the names of places were changed to Ambedkar-this, Ambedkar-that. She raised the status of Dalits by dragging Brahmins down,” complains Giridhar Upadhyay, a shop-owner from the City South constituency.
“BJP’s candidate Shyamdev Roy Choudhury came to us asking for Brahmin votes. We asked him why he bothered to come to us as we are all Kurmis now,” he says forcefully.
Some like Ashok Singh hope Mayawati has learnt her lessons from the past. “There is no doubt that during her rule, people were afraid to break the law. She is also inviting Brahmins into the BSP fold. What is the BJP doing? Allowing a smaller party to use it for its own purpose. Mark my words, Sone Lal Patel will get his seats and throw away the BJP like a pebble in a shoe.”