The BJP has said the combination of Dalits and Muslims is “historically unsustainable”. The statement is seen as part of a move to scuttle opposition attempts to consolidate Dalit and Muslim votes ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly election early next year.
BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said whenever Dalits came together with Muslims, they suffered adversely with their “entity” wiped out.
“Dalit-Muslim unity is historically unsustainable. Look at Pakistan. Where are the Dalits there? The population of Dalits has diminished there, unlike in India where despite the narrow agenda of some communities and social problems, the Dalit population has grown,” Rao said on Wednesday, citing Pakistan as an example of the consequence Dalit have suffered for uniting with Muslims.
The elections to the 403-member UP assembly will pitch the BJP against the ruling Samajwadi Party which holds sway among the Muslims and the BSP, which has a dedicated Dalit cadre.
Rao made a concerted effort to reach out to the Dalits by asserting that they are part of Indian ethnicity.
“Indian social unity is paramount and the spirit of social unity can protect, promote and empower Dalits. There is no other sectarian agenda that can help Dalits,” Rao said speaking at a function on ‘Dalit empowerment through entrepreneurship’ organised by Bharat Niti, an advocacy platform of the RSS and the BJP and the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).
The BJP has been in the crosshairs of Dalit and Muslim groups after attacks perpetrated against them by cow vigilantes groups.
With accusations flying thick and fast against the party of being anti-Dalit, an allegation that stuck after students’ unrest across universities following the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, and reinforced by the flogging of Dalits by cow protection vigilante members in Una in Gujarat, the BJP is now working hard to change that perception.
Rao lashed out at the political parties that accuse the BJP of being anti-Dalit by dubbing them as “divisive forces”.
“Without Dalit, there is no India. Without Dalit empowerment Indian growth story is incomplete. The objective of Indian freedom struggle is incomplete,” he said, asserting that Dalit empowerment is part of “national agenda”.