UP: Mayawati to visit Shabbirpur, meet Dalits affected by Saharanpur clashes
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati will visit Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur district on Tuesday to meet the members of the Dalit community whose houses were allegedly set ablaze by upper caste Thakurs earlier this month.
Clashes erupted on May 5 in Shabbirpur after some of Dalit residents refused to allow a procession by Thakurs to mark the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap.
Police said 25 houses were set on fire, but Dalits of the village, 25 km from Saharanpur, insist 55 houses and 5 shops were burnt down after a Thakur youth was killed in caste clashes.
Mayawati set out for Shabbirpur from her Tyagraj Marg residence in New Delhi by road after releasing a statement blaming the Yogi Adityanath government in the state of being ‘casteist’.
The BSP leaders accompanying her said she will be welcomed by the party supporters on the way to Saharanpur, a communally sensitive district of western Uttar Pradesh, and might announce help to the Dalit community whose hutments were destroyed.
Mayawati usually avoids visiting such spots and the senior leaders of her party go to such places and submit reports about the incidents.
During the Samajwadi Party government, she visited Badaun where the dead bodies of 2 sisters were found hanging from a tree. The visit turned out to be an embarrassment for her after it was found that the sisters were not Dalits and were killed by their family members.
Political observers feel that after the humiliating defeat in the assembly election and rebellion of the senior party leaders, Mayawati is returning to the ‘basics’ to strengthen her hold on the Dalits, who were once the core of the BSP.
Aware that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made an inroad into her Dalit vote bank, Mayawati plans to regain the lost ground by sending a message to the Dalits that the BSP will continue to fight for their rights.
The clash between the upper caste Thakurs, who are considered supporters of the BJP, and Dalits has provided her with the ammunition to attack the saffron party that is trying to weave a coalition of the upper castes, backward and Dalits.
The rise of the Bhim Army in western UP has also emerged as a challenge for the BSP. Mayawati fears that the Bhim Army might eat into her vote bank weakening her party, hit by dissensions and defeat, even further.