Maya's dalit figures unknown, says BJP; looks for local icons

  • Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2012 23:46 IST
  • Mayawati

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati (bottom right) stands near statues of herself (L) Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (C) and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Kansi Ram in ...

  • Cops

    Cops at the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: Rishi Ballabh/HT)

  • Mayawati

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati is blessed by her mother during the inauguration of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida on Friday. (Photo: ...

  • Mayawati

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati along with her parents during the inauguration of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: Raj K ...

  • BSP supporters

    BSP supporters gather for the inauguration of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: Raj K Raj/HT)

  • Mayawati

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati during the inauguration of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: Raj K Raj/HT)

  • BSP supporters

    BSP supporters gather during the inauguration of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: Raj K Raj/HT)

  • Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati during the inauguration of Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Ambedkar Park in Noida. (Photo: PTI)

  • Mayawati

    Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati waves after inaugurating the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida.

  • Bhim Rao Ambedkar Park

    Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's Rs. 685 crore magnum opus — Bhim Rao Ambedkar Park — is scheduled to be inaugurated on October 14.  The ...

Looking to make a dent in Mayawati’s Dalit base, the BJP is attempting to appropriate “local” Dalit icons, claiming that the BSP’s focus is on Dalit-Bahujan icons who have nothing to do with Uttar Pradesh.

“Among the Dalit icons Mayawati has promoted are leaders who have no connection whatsoever with UP. We respect them, but we are focussing on UP-specific icons like Ravidas, a cobbler, Kabir, a weaver who is highly regarded by Koris, Raja Bijli Pasi, Jhalkari Bai Kori, a key associate of Rani Jhansi, Uda Devi, a Khatik, and sage Valmiki, a local Valmiki icon,” said BJP national spokesperson and Dalit leader Ramnath Kovind.

He underlined that Mayawati’s Dalit-Bahujan icons like Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj, Sri Narayana Guru, and Jyotiba Phule are little known in the state.

In line with such icon building not for Dalits as a monolith but with each Dalit caste in mind, the party’s list of Dalit candidates has 20 Jatavs, 25 Pasis, nine Koris, six Valmikis, six Khatiks/Sonkars and six Dhobis.     

Much like the Congress’ Dalit outreach programme, the saffron party, too, has a sub-group dedicated to Dalits. It had organised a major Dalit Adhikar rally in Lucknow in October, followed by Dalit meetings in all 403 constituencies in the state.

 

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