The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the Dalit vote on its mind for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections that are only 10 months away. Atrocities on Dalits, particularly women, in UP during the four-year rule of the Samajwadi Party, will be the top agenda for assembly polls, according to BJP leaders.
The party’s UP unit decided in its state executive meeting held on February 7 this year that injustice against Dalits should be the main agenda in the elections.
“In the last 11 months, 92 Dalits have been killed, which indicates a complete collapse of law and order in the state since the Samajwadi Party came into power in 2012. Among the 92 victims of violence, most are Dalit women, who were raped before being killed due to police laxity,” said the state’s BJP president Lakshmikant Vajpayee.
Dalits constitute 21 per cent of the total voters in the state and are considered a vote bank of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the party of former chief minister Mayawati. According to BJP leaders, by raising Dalit issues and making Dalit atrocities its core agenda for the assembly polls, the party wants to make inroads into Mayawati’s vote bank.
However, BSP’s Noida leader Davendra Sharma questioned as to why the BJP is talking of Dalit welfare just before the state polls.
“Dalits know who is working for their welfare. They will not fall into BJP’s trap. We are going to form the next government in the state,” said Sharma, whose name has been announced as the BSP’s Noida candidate for the 2017 assembly polls.
However, BJP state president Vajpayee said his party is genuinely working for Dalits to empower them.
“Mayawati and BSP workers have not visited the houses of any of the Dalits killed in the last 11 months. I have supported these 92 Dalit families whose members were killed due to various reasons. In our state executive meet, we made it clear that we will fight for Dalits and get them justice,” said Vajpayee.
In his April 5 event in Noida, which was held on the birth anniversary of Babu Jagjivan Ram, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that he has directed all 1.25 branches of banks to give a mandatory guarantee-free loan to at least one member of a Scheduled Caste or Schedule Tribe and a woman.
“With entrepreneurship, Dalits will bring a big social change in India. Our government will support them wholeheartedly,” Modi had said.
He also said that history forgot Babu Jagjivan Ram Babu Jagjivan Ram, who was first agriculture minister to bring a revolution in this field. He was also the defence minister when India won the 1971 war defeating Pakistan, the PM added.
“He believed in merit-based scholarship. Social obstacles never came in his way to success. He believed in ‘samta mulak’ samaj; equal opportunity for all. If we provide the opportunity, Dalits, women and STs can do wonders,” the PM had said on Tuesday.