Arvinder Singh Lovely, former Congress MLA from Deoli and the son of former cabinet minister Buta Singh, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday. Some Dalit leaders also joined the party with Lovely.
The BJP had been wooing the Dalits, who form a significant 20% of Delhi’s 1.3 crore electorate. Also, of the 70 assembly constituencies in Delhi, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates.
Party MP Udit Raj, a Dalit leader, on January 16, will organise a ‘Dalit Sammelan’ at Talkatora Stadium, where members from the community will be felicitated.
“The Dalit community sees Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a social reformer and, therefore, people all sections of the Dalits community are joining the BJP in Delhi,” said Satish Upadhyay, Delhi BJP president.
The Delhi BJP is sparing no effort to bring Dalit voters - a 24 lakh-strong vote bank - to its fold. Dalits used to vote for the Congress but later shifted loyalty to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and had helped it win two seats in the 2008 assembly election. “But in the 2013 assembly elections, the community shifted towards AAP. The party is taking several initiatives to ensure support of Dalit voters,” said a senior Delhi BJP leader.
“The Prime Minister’s speech at the Ramlila Maidan on Saturday gave me the impression that the Dalits and the backward communities will be able to join the mainstream only under his leadership. That is why I have decided to join the BJP,” said Lovely.
Leaders from the JD(U), BSP, AAP and Rashtriya Jan Sahakti Party also joined the BJP.
Leaders of the Valmiki community said they will start an awareness campaign in all the 12 reserved assembly constituencies in favour of the BJP.