Political circles are rife with speculations on whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would nominate a Brahmin or a Thakur leader to helm the party in the state, but the central leadership is also said to be weighing the option of having a president from the backward class to win over the Dalits, who account for 22% of the voters in the state.
According to well-placed party sources, the BJP central leadership is aware that the party lags behind the Congress in terms of a Dalit support base. Therefore, for the first time, it was contemplating having a non-Thakur and non-Brahmin party president.
Although BJP leaders, especially from the Dalit community, are presently unwilling to say it on record, they have accepted that the central leadership has been suggested that a Dalit president could turn the tide for the party, which has so far been able to grab just 4-5% of the Dalit vote share compared to the Congress’ 12%.
“It’s good if the central leadership or even state leaders are thinking that way. The BJP is a party that respects all sections and castes of society, and the decision of the central leadership will be final and acceptable to all alike,” said Almora MP Ajay Tamta.
“Although I am not aware of what is going on, I’m not very keen on getting the post as my hands are already full as a Lok Sabha member.”
Similar views were expressed by incumbent party president Tirath Singh Rawat: “I am not aware of what’s happening at the higher level but the central leaders will have final say on the new state president — be it Thakur, Brahmin or Dalit. Consultations have already taken place with state leaders and now whatever the centre finalises, we all have to go by that.”
“I am aware that the central leadership is pondering over it as an option. Having a Dalit as the new party president will certainly benefit the party,” said a senior Dalit leader requesting anonymity.
The central leadership of the BJP is expected to finalise the new state president in the next fortnight.