Many middle-rung BJP functionaries at party president Rajnath Singh's election office turn evasive on being asked if caste and community are election issues in this constituency. They simply say that Lucknow is an urban constituency, and 70 per cent of its people are educated and therefore caste and community do not count when it comes to choosing a candidate. They also argue that given the Modi wave, people in Lucknow will vote not for Rajnath or even for the BJP, but for the party's PM nominee Narendra Modi.
On probing a bit deeper though, they lay out on a platter all their calculations of how the caste and community numbers will add up in Lucknow. According to their estimates, the Brahmins account for 3-3.5 lakh, followed by the Kayasthas, with a strength of 2.5 lakh. The Banias and Muslims constitute 2 lakh each, with the Sunnis eclipsing the Shias. With a lakh members each, the Yadav and the Pahadi (from Uttarakhand's hills) communities come next. The rest of the population is Rajputs (60,000-70,000), the Lodhis and Bhinds (50,000) and the Dalits (30,000).
Party workers also explain that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won over the city's Muslims because he made peace between the Shias and Sunnis over the Moharram procession, and the Muslims are therefore not hostile to the BJP. Many, especially the Shias, had voted for Vajpayee. They also say that the Muslim educated class, and the Shia intellectuals in particular, are not opposed to the BJP. The workers also sense that 90 per cent Muslims, most of whom are artisans and labourers, are seeking development and good governance and are not swayed by communal concerns.
The calculation is that all of the Kayasthas and 90 per cent Banias will go with the BJP. It is felt that the Brahmin votes will split between the BJP, the BSP and the Congress. Among the Muslims, the Sunnis will vote for Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Shias will go with the BJP, party workers say.
At the end of the detailed caste and community calculations, party workers say that Rajnath will win because of the Modi wave. "If there is a higher voter turnout, the victory margin will be larger. If the voter turnout is less, then the victory margin will be reduced," they say, giving way to a sense of realism.