Dalit politics takes centre stage: Now, UP BJP to raise ‘Lucknow guest house incident’

Apr 06, 2023 12:24 PM IST

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tasked its SC/ST wing to connect with Dalits and tell them how the BJP had saved Maya from being targeted by a mob comprising SP cadre.

Days after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati dug out the infamous 1995 guest house incident, 27 years after it had occurred in Lucknow, holding it responsible for the SP-BSP alliance first formed in 1993 coming unstuck, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tasked its SC/ST wing to connect with Dalits by reminding them how BJP had saved Maya from being targeted by a mob, comprising SP cadre.

Dalit politics takes centre stage: Now, UP BJP to raise ‘Lucknow guest house incident’ (pic for representation)
Dalit politics takes centre stage: Now, UP BJP to raise ‘Lucknow guest house incident’ (pic for representation)

In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Maya had briefly patched up with the SP, sharing the stage with SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, whom she once held chiefly responsible for the attack on her. Maya had also subsequently withdrawn the guest house case against Mulayam.

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But, now after losing many of her leaders to SP and alarmed by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s fresh attempt to woo Dalits by unveiling the statue of BSP mentor Kanshiram at a function organised by her former aide and prominent OBC leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Maya has chosen to refresh memories of the infamous incident that had occurred after she had withdrawn support to the Mulayam government.

Quick to seize on the opportunity, the BJP has now tasked its SC/ST wing to connect with Dalits and to tell them how BJP had saved Mayawati from being assaulted by a mob comprising Samajwadi Party people when she was holed up inside the state guest house in Lucknow in 1995 after withdrawing support to the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

Political experts felt that the BJP move is aimed at connecting with an estimated 21 percent Dalit voters in UP by reminding them that it was the BJP that not only saved Mayawati in 1995 but also helped her in becoming the chief minister by extending support to her party.

The BJP has announced launch of social justice week from April 6, its Founders’ Day -- till April 14, the birth anniversary of Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar, who was the chairman of the drafting committee which played a key role in shaping the Constitution. The party will also celebrate other important days associated with Dalit icons and then launch another campaign to replay sequences that led to the ‘guest house incident’ and how BJP had saved the former chief minister who frequently refers to herself as ‘Dalit ki Beti (daughter of a dalit).’

“From April 14 to May 5, we will hold meetings and seminars in all 75 districts and connect with the community, telling them how SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s recent Dalit love is a sham and how it was BJP leader Brahmadutt Dwivedi who saved Mayawati from SP goons,” said Ram Chandra Kanojia, head of the BJP’s SC/ST wing. Among the Dalits, Jatavs, a Dalit subcaste to which Maya belongs, is the most dominant and BJP will also talk about the incident among them, party leaders admitted.

On Monday, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had unveiled a statue of BSP founder Kanshiram to signal his party’s intent to woo dalits, who along with non-Yadav OBCs, have been the mainstay of the BJP’s phenomenal wins in UP since 2014.

The SP has also announced that it will observe April 13 – the death anniversary of former Bihar chief minister BP Mandal who chaired the Mandal Commission which advocated reservation for dalits and OBCs - by holding functions across the state and hold meetings to discuss social justice and need for a caste census. The SP will also hold a function on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.

Reacting to BJP’s plan to take up the guest house incident, SP general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya said, “What good will digging up the past do? Moreover, when behenji herself closed the chapter by withdrawing the case and sharing the stage with SP leaders, BJP’s feeble attempts to gain sympathy and political mileage won’t help.”

He said, “The BJP social justice campaign will be a flop unless it can demonstrate that it treats Dalits and OBCs at par with others and to prove their sincerity they must announce Bharat Ratna for Kanshiram and Mulayam Singh Yadav.”

The Congress too is eyeing Dalit votes. For the first time in its history, the party has Dalit leaders heading the party at the national level and in Uttar Pradesh.

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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based assistant editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write off beat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans but from the newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn

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