The BJP swiftly expelled its Uttar Pradesh unit vice-president for his abusive remark about BSP chief Mayawati, underscoring the party’s zero tolerance towards anything that can scuttle its pro-Dalit plan ahead of the 2017 state polls.
The 44-year-old Dayashankar Singh, a former Lucknow University Students Union (LUSU) president, is an old BJP hand, and has risen through the ranks. He was promoted from a secretary to vice-president in the party unit.
But he probably failed to read the lines, and shot off his mouth, comparing Dalit leader and four-time chief minister Mayawati to a prostitute. The outrage he caused threatened to upset the BJP’s efforts to project a pro-Dalit image, especially in UP where scheduled caste and scheduled tribe people account for 23% of the state’s population.
The party’s ideological fountainhead, the RSS, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad too have launched Dalit-outreach initiatives in the poll-bound state.
“He was close to the BJP leadership as was apparent by his promotion in the latest BJP unit in UP. But as the BSP used his remarks to accuse the party of anti-Dalit bias, the leadership acted,” a party source said.
Singh, an upper case Thakur, played a key role in organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 1 function in Ballia, his native place. Modi launched the scheme to provide free cooking gas to the poor from there.
But his tongue did him in, and he failed to learn any lesson from another expulsion that preceded his. In April, the BJP had quickly expelled Madhu Mishra, a Brahmin leader, after she was accused of making anti-Dalit remarks.
BSP chief Mayawati had reacted strongly to both leaders’ comments, accusing the BJP of possessing an anti-Dalit mindset, a line the saffron brigade feared ahead of the UP polls.
In the 2012 UP polls, the Samajwadi Party made inroads into the BSP’s Dalit vote bank by winning 58 of the state’s 85 reserved assembly constituencies. But, in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won all the 17 reserved seats.
The party’s decision to distance itself from Singh wasn’t apparently an easy one. But he gave his party little option because the BSP, itching to get back at the BJP whom it has accused of poaching its leaders, was adamant on his expulsion and arrest.
The eastern UP leader, who had apologised for his remark, was taken by surprise at the speed with which his party acted against him. “I have no clue. I am hearing of my expulsion through you,” he said over the phone on Wednesday night.
Some of Singh’s supporters protested the expulsion. But he may be gone for good, at least for now.
“By sacking him, the BJP denied BSP the advantage it was aiming for,” said Athar Siddiqui of the Centre for Objective Research and Development.