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Maya brings back Brahmin aide
Mayawati (top) and Satish Chandra Mishra

Lucknow, Nov. 13: A former advocate-general who played a key role in Mayawati’s spectacular 2007 victory but then slipped into political wilderness staged a comeback today, sharing the dais with the Dalit leader at a rally to thaw upper-caste resentment.

Over two lakh people attended the Brahmin rally Satish Chandra Mishra organised on Lucknow’s outskirts as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister reached out to upper-caste voters ahead of what could be a hard-fought election.

Mishra’s return to the centre-stage came a day before Rahul Gandhi launches the Congress campaign near Allahabad.

Many in the crowd blew conch shells as Mishra, a Brahmin, coined the slogan “Brahman sankh bajaiga/ Haati barta jaiga” (Brahmins will blow conch shells, and the elephant, the BSP symbol, will march ahead).

Sound of conch shells also filled the air when Mayawati walked up to the stage.

Mayawati lavished praise on Mishra, the architect of the 2007 Dalit-Brahmin alliance that saw her cruise to victory with 206 seats in the 400-strong Assembly, where the BSP strength had never crossed 90.

“Let me remind you that it is Satish Mishra who bailed me out when the BJP tried to frame me in the Taj Corridor disproportionate assets case in 2002,” she said.

Two years back, however, Mishra appeared to have outlived his utility.

He was relegated to the sidelines after Mayawati moved to placate her Dalit supporters in the face of criticism that Mishra was getting too much importance and Brahmin domination had altered the party’s priorities.

In 2009, Mayawati disbanded Brahmin brotherhood committees that Mishra headed. In January 2010, she sidelined him further, asking him to only take care of legal cases against her and the government.

Since then, Mishra wasn’t seen anywhere near Mayawati. Today, at Smriti Upvan, 15km from Lucknow, he urged the crowd to “stamp on elephant only”, as he returned to the limelight.

The move to rehabilitate Mishra comes at a time the state Congress led by a Brahmin, Rita Bahuguna Joshi is also trying to tap Brahmins, who account for up to 12 per cent of the state’s voters.

The BJP, too, is banking on Kalraj Mishra, a Brahmin and one of those spearheading the party’s campaign in the heartland, where elections are due next year.

Sources said Mayawati, who faces widespread farmer discontent, doesn’t want Brahmin votes to be split and has, therefore, brought back Mishra.

Lest Dalits resented her move, she explained why Mishra had once got so much prominence. “The importance that Mishra and the members of his family were getting in the government was because of the devotion with which they worked for the BSP,” she said.

The chief minister, who yesterday launched the Shakuntala Mishra University for the disabled named after Mishra’s mother, promised “reservation” for the poor among the upper castes. She said she had already written to the Prime Minister about it.

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