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Congress asked to field a Dalit in Barmer assembly seat

At a meeting organised on Monday, Dalits staked their claim to the Barmer assembly constituency, an unreserved seat won by Mevaram Jain on a Congress ticket.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Jun 04, 2018 22:44 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,Dalit,Congress
Dalits protest outside the Barmer collectorate in Rajasthan against the Supreme Court ruling that allegedly diluted the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.(HT File Photo)

Gujarat’s Dalit MLA Jignesh Mevani, during his frequent visits to Rajasthan, has appealed to scheduled castes to defeat the ruling BJP in assembly polls due by the year-end, but Dalits in Barmer have created something of a catch-22 situation for the opposition Congress.

At a meeting organised on Monday, Dalits staked their claim to the Barmer assembly constituency, an unreserved seat won by Mevaram Jain on a Congress ticket.

Addressing the meeting, Dalit leaders Laxman Badera and Udaram Meghwal said their community, which always supported Congress candidates after independence, had backed Jain for two consecutive terms. They wanted Jain to leave the seat for a Dalit candidate in the next assembly polls.

If the Congress does not field a Dalit from Barmer, the party would face defeat in all seats in the district where Dalits constitute about 25% of voters, Badera and Meghwal warned.

The Congress and the BJP have been fielding Dalit candidates in only one reserved seat out of nine in the Barmer parliamentary constituency, they said.

Badera and Meghwal said they were forced to stake claim to the Barmer seat after the incidents on and after the April 2 Bharat Bandh. They alleged that Jain in collusion with the local police has harassed the Dalits.

Badera and Meghwal said Dalits won’t support any Congress candidate if Jain does not make way for a candidate from their community in the Barmer seat.

Other leaders present at the meeting said the BSP “is the only party for Dalits” and demanded that the BJP and the Congress be boycotted. They suggested that the BSP be supported to teach a lesson to both the parties. At the end of the meeting, Dalits said they would support the candidate decided upon by the community.

Reacting to the demand, Congress district president Fateh Khan said, “Nobody from the Dalit community has met me or informed me about such a demand. I came to know about it through newspapers.” Refuting any trouble for the Congress, Khan said, “The party high command will finalise the tickets and all sections will be entertained.”

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Jain organised a parallel meeting of Dalits at his office. He said, “I am being targeted under a planned conspiracy. I always supported the Dalit community and got a favourable treatment from them.”

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 22:40 IST