By Sharat Pradhan
Lucknow : Exactly 31 months ago, when he first got the offer to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Satish Chandra Misra was quite apprehensive as he could hardly foresee any future for someone coming from a totally apolitical high class Brahmin family in a party "of Dalits, for Dalits and by Dalits".
From a political nobody, Misra has now emerged as a potent Brahmin force in the BSP that in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls successfully relived the social formula of a Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim axis, which the Congress had adopted years ago and thrived on for four decades in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
"The powerful social combination disintegrated in the Congress for the simple reason that it used Dalits as a vote bank," points out Misra, who prefers to remain low profile and publicity shy.
"Unlike the Congress, which worked mostly under Brahmin domination, we in the BSP chose to establish complete social integration between the two communities," he said.
"This is the beginning of BSP's mission to establish a parallel society, sans the traditional vertical hierarchy," he pointed out in an exclusive interview to IANS.
Though it is an open secret that this 55-year-old senior lawyer-turned- politician and son of a high court chief justice was the key architect behind the success story of this social engineering, the low profile Misra attributes it entirely to party chief and his political mentor Mayawati.
Once the task was entrusted to Misra, he left no stone unturned to carry it out with a missionary zeal, sacrificing his bar practice that had made him the highest income-tax paying counsel in Lucknow.
It was no surprise when Mayawati gave him an independent helicopter to go about campaigning for the assembly polls in all Brahmin-dominated areas of the state, from where the party earned high dividends.
If he is in an enviable position, it is by the dint of his merit, perseverance and dedication. And now by declining to take up a ministerial berth or any other position of power or prominence, which was his for the asking, he has proved that he is cut out for a much larger task – perhaps the party's march to New Delhi in the long run.
Misra took off by mobilising Brahmins to support the BSP. Well before he undertook the party campaign, Misra addressed as many as 98 Brahmin meets in different parts of the state.
"Within eight months of my induction into the party as its national general secretary in October 2004, I organised the first Brahman sammellan at Allahabad in February, 2005."
It was there that the party switched to a new slogan – "Haathi nahin Ganesh hai, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh hai" (this is not just an elephant, but the party icon symbolises the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), thus abandoning the party's original call – "Tilak, tarazu aur talwarm inko maro jute char" (give a good beating to the upper caste symbols).
"I addressed 21 such meets in different places and concluded the first round of this series with a 'maha-sammellan' (massive rally) in Lucknow on June 9, 2005", Misra said. This mammoth show was addressed by Mayawati herself.
His next move was to travel to each of Uttar Pradesh's 70 districts where he constituted the 'Brahmin-Dalit Bhaichara Banao Samiti' (Brahmin-Dalit Goodwill Committee).
"Each of these committees comprised 300 Brahmins and 100 Dalits, who met on a periodical basis to discuss mutual social problems and also thrash out solutions. We ensured that the Brahmins took the first step to break the traditional barrier by visiting the homes of local Dalit members of the samiti."
At the end of one year in June 2006, Misra organised a state-level meet of these goodwill committees in Lucknow, which was promptly followed by a series of 77 rallies in different parts of the state between July and September.
He covered a distance of about 21,000 km within the state over three months, busy breaking the caste barrier in a highly hierarchical society.
Misra took pains to make his audience believe that Brahmins were never the exploiters of the have-not Dalits.
"In the traditional Hindu society, the Brahmin survived only on 'bhiksha' (alms) while the Thakur and Yadav remained the powerful landowner who exploited the poor Dalit at will," was the oft-repeated reminder that made Misra gel with the socially downtrodden.
He would make it a point to make Brahmins go to the nearest Dalit pockets for the goodwill rallies and not vice versa.
"And that really worked to repose confidence among Dalits that this bond was here to stay," asserts Misra, who strongly believes that "the success of the Uttar Pradesh experiment would go a long way in eventually re-writing the political destiny of the nation."