A team of 20 volunteers (T-20) will be set up in every district to provide legal aid and other assistance to the Brahmins, said senior Congress leader Jitin Prasada. The effort is an apparent move to win the support of the community in Uttar Pradesh.

“We are setting up teams of 20 volunteers. There is a spurt in crime, and targeted attacks against Brahmins have come to our notice,” said Prasada, who is also the patron of the Brahmin Chetna Parishad.

Though Prasada said he had been raising such issues in view of the ‘step-motherly’ treatment being meted out to the Brahmins in the state, his assertions are being viewed as an attempt to indulge in caste divide and woo the community.

“This is an attempt to woo the community. But it is the outcome of a narrow mindset. Uttar Pradesh has moved away from caste politics and this is the time of sabka saath, sabkaa vikas. The BJP government in the state is working for all sections of society,” said Chandramohan, UP BJP spokesman.

Prasada, however, maintains that the Brahmin Chetna Parishad was formed to resolve grievances of the community and he was not indulging in any caste politics.

The Congress leader’s observations about the law and order and crime issues were endorsed by leaders of other parties as well.

“BSP chief Mayawati has been saying there is jungle rule in the state. The incidents of crime have gone up against Dalits, backward classes, minorities and Brahmins as well,” said BSP legislature party leader Lalji Verma.

Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said crime against weaker sections and women had gone up and the BJP government had failed to bring about any improvement. “There is an increase in crime against economically and socially weaker sections. The SP has been raising this issue,” said Chaudhary.

This is not for the first time that Prasada has raised such an issue.

The former Union minister said he had visited 40 districts for the cause of the community and would cover the remaining districts soon. On August 10, 2020, Prasada had sent a letter to chief minister Yogi Adityanath demanding restoration of public holiday on Parshuram Jayanti.

The Samajwadi Party had announced plans to install a 108-ft statue of Parshuram in the state capital. The Bahujan Samaj Party had responded by vowing to install a bigger one.

The move was seen as a bid to woo Brahmins, who constitute 10% of the state’s electorate, as Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu in the Hindu pantheon, was also a Brahmin.

On August 22, CM Adityanath, while speaking on the law and order situation in the state assembly, took on the opposition for its apparent ploy of projecting Parshuram as a Brahmin icon, saying Parshuram was no different from Lord Ram. Ram and Parshuram, the CM said, were both incarnations of Lord Vishnu and therefore attempts to drive a wedge in the society in their name would prove futile.

UP BJP general secretary Vijay Pathak said dividing people on caste lines was not justified. He said the state government was working for people of all sections of society.

Pathak said Prasada should also look at the situation in Rajasthan before making any comments about Uttar Pradesh.

Will the attempts to woo the people on caste lines help political parties? “The era of caste division is over. We do not see a caste divide now as it was earlier. It may be because of inter-caste marriages. While the caste divide is declining, the political parties are making efforts to cement the division,” said SK Dwivedi, former head of department, political science, Lucknow University.

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