Singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans disrupted the Congress Dalit Outreach conference here on Monday, alleging that the party didn’t give fair representation to Valmikis.
Leaving the Congress leadership as well as state party president Captain Amarinder Singh embarrassed, Hans supporters raised slogans demanding fair representation. The party’s Scheduled Caste cell had organised the event at Nayagaon near SAS Nagar.
“No party in Punjab watches the interests of the Dalits better than the Congress,” state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi was telling the gathering. “Not only I but also one of our three Rajya Sabha members belong to the Scheduled Caste category.” Hearing this, an agitated Hans stood on the stage and shouted: “This is a lie”.
“What Dalit unity are we talking about,” he said. “Where was it when I, a Valmiki, was being considered for the Rajya Sabha ticket and many Dalit leaders opposed it?” “The party discriminates against Valmikis,” said Hans and jumped off the stage. His supporters gathered around and remained shrill for about 30 minutes.
Hans had spoken before Channi and told the party to give “fair representation” to the Dalits, besides promises to them in the assembly election manifesto. Amarinder sat through the drama quietly. Egged by senior party leaders, Hans again came up on the stage and said: “I am against neither Captain or the Congress.”
The old differences between Dalit leaders Shamsher Singh Dullo and Hans over a Rajya Sabha seat were talked about for long. Monday’s episode brought it into the open again. Looking to avoid the media after the programme, Amarinder dismissed the episode as “a very minor issue... that won’t affect us in the elections”.