Uttarakhand BJP MLA to Amit Shah: Walk the talk on Dalits
Today in New Delhi, India
Jan 19, 2019-Saturday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Uttarakhand BJP MLA to Amit Shah: Walk the talk on Dalits

It will take more than mere tokenism on party of the BJP to secure support of Dalits in Uttarakhand in 2019 general elections, state leaders said, a day party national president Amit Shah assured the community that the Centre will protect all their constitutional rights

dehradun Updated: Jun 25, 2018 21:55 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
BJP national president Amit Shah (2nd from left) along with chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had lunch at a Dalit's house in Dehradun last year. (PTI File )

It will take more than mere tokenism on party of the BJP to secure support of Dalits in Uttarakhand in 2019 general elections, state leaders said, a day party national president Amit Shah assured the community that the Centre will protect all their constitutional rights.

On one-day visit to state on Sunday, Shah assured that the Centre will neither discontinue the reservation system nor will it dilute the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

“Both the announcements are worth appreciating but unless development schemes meant for the Dalits are not implemented vigorously, it will be difficult for our party to retain their support in the general elections,” Chandan Ram Das, a Dalit leader and BJP MLA from Bageshwar, said.

Shah’s announcements during an interaction with scheduled caste leaders and legislators of the BJP’s state unit are being seen as the party’s bid to retain the Dalit vote bank ahead of the elections next year. The scheduled castes constitute nearly 19% of the total electorate in Uttarakhand whereas other backward castes (OBCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) constitute 14% and 2% respectively.

Party insiders fear that the Dalits may switch their loyalty owing to the recent incidents of atrocities being reported from different states, including Gujarat.

Traditionally loyal to the Congress, the scheduled castes and other Dalit communities had voted overwhelming in favour of the BJP in the 2017 assembly polls helping the party gain power with three-fourth majority. “Out of the total 57 ruling party legislators, 11 are from the scheduled castes,” Das said

Similarly, the Dalits in Uttarakhand also voted “almost en bloc” for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which helped the party win all the five parliamentary seats in the state.

“These recent electoral trends show that the scheduled castes and other communities in this state, which were never considered our (BJP) vote bank are coming close to our party. So, the need of the hour is to build on our expanding Dalit vote bank by speeding up implementation of schemes exclusively meant for them,” Das said, adding “a lot needs to be done in that direction.”

Referring to the special component plan (SCP) for the scheduled castes and the tribal sub-plan (TSP), Das said, “Both have been designed to give a boost to development in areas inhabited by the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes but no development is taking place under them.”

Das claimed that “even development schemes are not being formulated for such areas” and “a monitoring committee that had been set up to conduct hearings of cases pertaining to development relating to SCPs is also headless.”

Das said no different is the case with various panels like the Uttarakhand Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Commission and the Commission for Backward Classes etc.

“Most these panels are headless and are without members. As a result, complaints relating to the schemes meant for the Dalits and tribes are not registered, heard, or, acted upon, which ends up hampering development.”

A BJP MLA from a reserved constituency, who did not wish to be named, said Shah, instead of listening to the party’s Dalit representatives, delivered his speech and went away.

State BJP general secretary Naresh Bansal denied such allegations. He said that the process of filling the posts of commissions for the Dalit and backward castes is on.

“The implementation of the SCP and TSP related schemes also gathered speed after the Centre increased its budget allocation for the state from 32% to 42%. In case of any flaws relating to the implementation of SCP and TSP plans, appropriate steps will be taken to correct them,” he said.

First Published: Jun 25, 2018 21:55 IST