BJP’s politics in Moradabad region over the removal of a loudspeaker from a Dalit temple in July has won the saffron party several friends in the community.
This may reap dividends for the party in the upcoming Thakurdwara bypolls. The 3.4-lakh strong electorate has 50,000 Dalit votes, the third largest chunk after Muslims (1.2 lakh) and Thakurs (55,000).
With the BSP deciding to give the election a miss, the entire Dalit vote bank is up for grabs. “Though everyone uses us as trash, we are also eventually part of ‘Hindutva’,” said Sunil Kumar, a young resident of Dalit Basti.
His fellow clansmen Ramlal and Sarvesh also believe in reciprocating the favour. “If somebody helps us at the time of crisis we should try to repay them,” they said, clearly indicating their preference.
Despite having an edge, the election will be tough for the BJP. The constituency fell vacant after BJP MLA Thakur Sarvesh Kumar, who represented Moradababd for over 20 years, was elected MP.
But despite voting for him time and again, people are unhappy with his attitude. “He did nothing for the development of the constituency or for the people,” said shopkeeper Pappu Singh Kashyap.
But, he explained, “The election here finally turns into Hindu vs Muslim, so we were left with no option but to give him our votes.”
However, rival parties are working upon this dissatisfaction.
The ruling Samajwadi Party’s candidate, Nawab Jaan, is giving a tough challenge to the BJP and the clean image of Congress candidate Dr Mohammad Ullah is also an issue of concern for the saffron strategists.