After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) bid to woo Dalits in Doaba, it’s the turn of the ruling Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD).
Wary over AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s efforts to making inroads into Dalit votebank by visiting various deras in Doaba and meeting Dalit icon and BSP founder late Kanshi Ram’s kin, SAD has now decided to hold a show of strength on April 3 at Khuralgarh of Hoshiarpur district.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal would lay the foundation stone of a memorial dedicated to Guru Ravidass, who is said to have stayed at the village for more than four years.
The government has decided to organise a mega rally coinciding with the foundation-laying ceremony to be addressed by the chief minister. Expected to be attended by the followers of Guru Ravidass, the event would be a state-level official function.
Tourism and cultural affairs minister Sohan Singh Thandal, who chaired the meeting of executive committee of Guru Ravidass Memorial Foundation, said thousands of people from across the state would participate in the event.
The SAD has planned to invite all deras preaching the philosophy of Guru Ravidass, including Dera Ballan, which was recently visited by Kejriwal. The CM is also likely to make some key announcements for the Dalit community.
Sources said the SAD think tank in Doaba was buoyed over the announcement of BSP chief Mayawati at the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar rally on March 15 to contest the next Punjab assembly polls without any coalition.
“It’s a first good sign for SAD as BSP and Congress together would have become a deadly political front. Now, the Dalit votes would get divided and SAD may also get reasonable share,” said a senior SAD functionary.
Guru Ravidass Memorial is being set up at Khuralgarh, in Garshankar Tehsil of Hoshiarpur district over an area of 18 acres at an estimated cost of Rs 110 crore.
Notably, to focus more on the Dalit votes, it has happened for the first time that the Youth Akali Dal (YAD), the youth wing of the party, has appointed separate district presidents for the Scheduled Caste community.
“The move has helped us to make a rapport among the Dalit youths and many of them are becoming members of YAD. We have empowered Dalit wing district chiefs on a par with other district presidents,” said Doaba zone president of YAD, Sarabjot Singh Sabi.
After Kejriwal visited Ravidassia community’s religious hub Dera Ballan and Balmiki community’s Dera Pargat Nath, the SAD leadership has been putting out feelers to the heads of both the deras. Soon, some senior functionaries of Dera Pargat Nath will reportedly have a meeting with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.