On February 10, 2022, the first phase of Assembly elections took place in the state of Uttar Pradesh. And with the analysis of the voting pattern in the very first phase, predictions have already started rolling in the state. When talking about the Politics of Uttar Pradesh, deeply entrenched caste lines cannot be ignored.
Following this caste line, an old controversy was fuelled in the state by a candidate. To gain personal benefit, BSP’s Dadri candidate fuelled the controversy related to Samrat Mihir Bhoj.
Mayawati’s BSP which is struggling to revive itself in the state is all set to benefit the ruling BJP. The social engineering of the Rajput-Gurjar community may support the BJP getting back into power.
The Mihir Bhoj Controversy
On 22nd September, last year, the Chief Minister of State of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath unveiled a statue of ‘Maharaja Mihir Bhoj’ at a college in Dadri district of Uttar Pradesh. The plaque of the statue that originally was allegedly changed from ‘Gurjar Pratihar Samrat Mihir Bhoj’ to ‘Pratihar Samrat Mihir Bhoj.’
This sparked a controversy in the region. The Gurjar leaders claimed that it was a conspiracy to appropriate the king. Then the leaders from both Rajput and Gurjar communities asserted their claims on the Samrat.
How BSP candidate fuelled the controversy?
On Tuesday, before the elections the BSP candidate fielded from Dadri Manbir Singh was hoisted onto the pedestal of the same statue to raise slogans of “Gurjar Samrat Mihir Bhoj Amar Rahein.” Singh declared, “We will not allow anyone to humiliate our Gurjar icon. We will ensure that this stops.”
Dadri was among the 58 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh that voted in the first phase. BSP candidate Manbir Singh tried to woo the Gurjar community by raising these slogans. It was Singh’s unsuccessful attempt to fend for himself in front of his community.
Bahujan Samaj Party that once formed the government with Dalit-Brahmin engineering is now out of the picture. The party has not been in power for a decade and has been failing badly at all the alliances.
In a desperate move to gain attention, the sinking party made a move that is going the benefit the BJP.
BJP’s silent tactic to woo Gurjars
RLD has aligned with the Samajwadi party to give a voice to the Jats of Uttar Pradesh that felt sidelined by the BJP due to the three contentious farm laws. Though the prominent Jat leaders of the Bhartiya Janta Party are meeting the Jat farmers to regain their trust, it seems that the BJP has a backup plan too.
To counter the Jat’s alignment towards the RLD, the BJP this time is betting on the Gurjar Samaj. Recently, CM Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the statue of 9th-century Maharaja Mihir Bhoj. This step was successful in establishing a narrative that the BJP cares for and acknowledges the contributions of the Gurjar community.
This move was welcomed by the community, and was praised and publicised.
The prominent Gurjar leaders have been vocal about the disregard they faced in the state. The Gurjar community has made contributions from 1857’s battle of Independence to the country’s GDP and all that the community wants is recognition. The BJP has catered to their demands, by recognizing their leaders and acknowledging their contributions.
Though this event created a rift between the Rajput and Gurjar samaj, this, in turn, favoured the BJP. The Rajputs being upper-caste Hindus, have been a trusted vote bank of the BJP. The Rajputs also connect with the chief minister of the state Yogi Adityanath as he has never shied away from his identity. Second, the Gurjar vote is also consolidated in favour of the BJP due to the party’s constant efforts.