As Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes to Noida on Tuesday evening to distribute e-rickshaws and disburse cheap loans, he will try to woo Dalits and women ahead of next year’s assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP sources said Modi has asked the party’s 18 Dalit MPs to be present at the Noida event. Since the BJP came to power at the centre in 2014, the PM was frequently seen reaching out to the scheduled castes and tribes, a vulnerable yet key vote-bank for political parties.
This will also be Modi’s second visit to Noida in four months, an area the political class considers jinxed. It is a common belief that if a ruling leader visits Noida his party would lose power.
The PM will also distribute free radios, each worth Rs 500 to 5,100 E-rickshaw beneficiaries so that they can listen to his monthly radio programme ‘Man Ki Baat’.
The PM’s latest event to reach out to the Dalits comes a fortnight after he laid the foundation stone for a memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar in Delhi, where he had hailed the Dalit icon as a champion for women and labour rights.
The programme to launch Stand-Up India will also see the ruling NDA’s focus on women welfare as most of the loans under the new scheme would be earmarked for women and Dalits.
Uttar Pradesh, which faces assembly elections in 9 months, has a 21% Dalit population, the highest among all states.
Modi’s efforts to distribute cheap loans to women also have a political significance. The Congress, especially, vice president Rahul Gandhi had been promoting the Self-help group movements among the state’s women. Now, it’s Modi’s turn to reach out to that section.
Under ‘Stand up India’ Modi will provide Rs 10 lakh to 1 crore easy loans to Dalit youth, particularly women, to set-up small scale industries.
“Our government wants to empower scheduled cast (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) youths, who want to do business but are unable to start due to financial crisis. BJP has invited all Dalit MPs for this event. I guess 18 will be present at the event,” said Dr Bhola Singh, BJP MP from Bulandshahr.
On December 31, 2015, Modi had inaugurated Delhi-Meerut Expressway project from the same venue in Noida sector 62. However, in 100 days National highway authority of India (NHAI) has not hired an agency that is supposed to build 75 km Delhi-Meerut Expressway.
BJP leaders said that with E-rickshaw distribution Modi wants to reply to opposition that is saying center has done nothing in last 2 years rule.
“Women will get 101 E-rickshaws. E-rickshaws for women are designed differently so that they can comfortably drive and earn livelihood,” said Vimla Batham BJP MLA from Noida.
With E-rickshaw distribution, BJP wants to make inroads Dalit vote bank that voted for former UP chief minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) in assembly elections took place between 2000 and 2007.
BJP organized this event in Noida to ensure UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav cannot attend it. Akhilesh in last 4 years have not visited Noida due to jinx that a CM loses power if he visits Noida.
“Earlier this event was scheduled in Ghaziabad, where UP CM was also supposed to attend the same. But BJP kept in Noida to keep Akhilesh away so that he cannot claim credit for it,” said a BJP leader in Ghaziabad.
Modi is also launching projects for Dalits because in Gautam Budh Nagar district (Noida) two out of 3 seats- Jewar and Dadri are occupied by Mayawati’s party. Only Noida urban seat is with BJP.
In Ghaziabad district, Suresh Kumar Bansal, Amarpal Sharma, Wahab Chaudhary, Zakir Ali (all from BSP) and Sudesh Sharma (from SP) emerged as winners from Ghaziabad, Sahibabad, Murad Nagar, Loni and Modi Nagar Assembly seats, respectively.
“We want to make our reach in rural areas because our party is strong in urban areas. But we need to improve our connect with rural belts in two districts- Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad. But I would say that BJP does not believe in cast politics as we work for all communities. PM event is to empower Dalits,” said Batham, who said thie event is biftting reply to those, who asks what Modi has done.