Why Modi is avoiding taking action against Teni?
Political pundits admit that Teni is getting a long rope only because he is a Brahmin and the BJP cannot take the risk of antagonising Brahmins before crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh
Two days back, when Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra 'Teni' was summoned to Delhi after he abused and threatened journalists in Khiri, speculations were rife that BJP leadership will ask him to resign. Nothing of sort happened. Instead, the BJP and the Modi government deputed votary of leaders who defended `Teni’ inside the Parliament as well as outside.
What has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi defend an accused so vehemently? Political pundits admit that Teni is getting a long rope only because he is a Brahmin and the BJP cannot take the risk of antagonising Brahmins before the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
An overview of the 2017 elections shows that out of 403 assembly seats in UP, 77 seats are dominated by Brahmins. BJP had won 36 of these seats and the winning margin in these seats was less than 10,000 votes. A rough estimate suggests that there are 2 crore Brahmin voters in UP. The spread of these votes is not equal in all the 403 seats but in every constituency there are more than 25,000 Brahmins votes, which the BJP is eyeing.
Any action on Teni at this time would surely antagonise the Brahmins. Because there is a feeling among Brahmins that under the direction of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is Thakur by caste, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of UP Police had turned the Khiri case upside down and from culpable homicide, the case is now of well-planned conspiracy to murder.
Ajay Mishra came to the political limelight when he was inducted into the Modi cabinet as a Brahmin face. He had twice won the Parliamentary election from Khiri but he remained under the shadow. He had an image of a strongman of Terai belt and was even named as an accused in a murder case in 2003. An attempt was made on his life inside the court but he survived. In 2004, he was absolved in the murder case. In 2009, he was elected Zila Panchayat member. In 2012, BJP gave him ticket for the Nighasan assembly seat. Despite the wave in favour of the Samajwadi Party, Teni won the seat. Reposing faith in him, the party gave him a Lok Sabha ticket in 2014. Riding on the Modi wave, he won the Kheri parliamentary seat, and in 2019 he was elected again.
Locals told this reporter that `Teni’ has a Robinhood image. People address him as `Maharaj’ -partially due to his opulent lifestyle and partially because he is revered as Brahmin.
His family, originally from Kanpur, shifted to Lakhimpur in the 1990s. The family owns a rice mill, agricultural land, and petrol pumps in the area. Teni is fond of wrestling and the day when his son mowed the agitating farmers under the wheels of his car, he had organised a wrestling championship in Tikunia.
“Teni should thank his stars that he is Brahmin. Otherwise, he would have been thrown behind bars by now,” a senior BJP leader said.