Third-time BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has taken a leaf out of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s book.
In a bid to get Dalits on his side ahead of the 2014 general elections, not only has the CM taken to visiting them at the slums of Bhopal and Indore, he was also seen relishing pot luck at their hovels.
The menu was not too bad though — makke ki roti, dal and chawal at Malti Kunhara’s two-room hutment in Indore’s Pancham ki Phel area. For company, he had legislators Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mahendra Hardia. The tea he had at the house of Sanjay Indori, in Goma ki Phel.
“It’s a mere election gimmick,” scoffed Indore city Congress president, Pramod Tandon. “Chouhan had not visited a single Dalit home in the last eight years. He would soon be exposed.”
While the claim might have some truth in it, it is also true that the BJP has made considerable inroads into the SC votebank, winning 28 of the state’s 35 SC seats.
But the big battle is yet to come — of the 29 Lok Sabha seats, four are reserved for SC of which BJP has two. “We get around 20% votes. So the chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been asked to work on it further,” said Sanjay Paswan, president of the BJP’s SC morcha.
While the Dalits are yet to show their appreciation, the party appears to be overflowing with it.
“We appreciate Chouhan’s initiative. He has created an example,” said Paswan.