NEW DELHI: Regional parties are hopeful that the Dalit unrest over the dilution of the SC/ST Act will lead to consolidation of backward caste votes in their favour in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
The rising attacks on Dalits during the four years of the Narendra Modi government took a toll on the BJPs image.
The suicide of HCU student Rohith Vemula, the Saharanpur Dalit-Thakur clashes in Uttar Pradesh and the Una attacks in Gujarat caused further unease among the backward communities. The dilutions of some provisions in the Act only worsened the situation for the ruling party.
Realising that all these could result in erosion of Dalit vote base, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have already swung into action.
The seriousness can be gauged from Shah’s April 5 visit to Odisha where the politically astute BJP chief had lunch at a Dalit house.
Political experts believe the erosion of BJP’s Dalit support can consolidate in favour of the regional parties in politically important states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.
Incidentally, these states have regional players such as the Shiv Sena and the JD(U).
CPI leader D Raja claims the BJP has already lost its Dalit support base for failing to handle cases of Dalit atrocities.
“The impact of Dalit consolation was visible in Gorakhpur and Phulpur by polls, which the BJP lost after the BSP-SP combine decided to support a single candidate. Even our party supported the joint candidate,” he says.
Gujarat saw the emergence of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who went on to win as an Independent candidate with the Congress support.
“Dalits will not give a single vote to BJP in the general elections. They are feeling insecure under the present regime,” said Sharad Yadav, who is set to launch a party after parting ways with the JD(U).
BJP Dalit MPs Savitri Bai Phule, Yashwant Singh, Ashok Kumar Dohre and Chhote Lal Kharwar have already expressed their concerns to the BJP high command regarding anger among the backward communities. Even NDA ally Lok Janshakti Party has highlighted the SC order that dilutes the SC/ST Act.
Various Dalit outfits have set an August 15 deadline to the Centre for bringing an Ordinance to restore the Act.
“There is a huge anger among the Dalits. We can no more be fooled by the government. They (BJP) have to decide if they want to lose the election by making us angry or not,” said Ashok Bharti of National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations.
Dalits ‘cleanse’ statue after Maneka’s tributes
VADODARA: Some Dalits on Saturday ‘cleansed’ an Ambedkar statue soon after Union minister Maneka Gandhi and other BJP leaders paid floral tributes on his 127th birth anniversary. A Dalit leader claimed that the presence of BJP leaders ‘polluted’ the atmosphere.