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Posted at: May 26, 2019, 8:04 AM; last updated: May 26, 2019, 8:04 AM (IST)

BSP surge forces its rivals to rework Dalit strategy

BJP mulls sending Hoshiarpur MP to Centre, Cong to plan afresh
BSP surge forces its rivals to rework Dalit strategy
BSP candidate Balwinder Kumar during ‘Save the Constitution’ campaign in Jalandhar. File

Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, May 25

A sudden upsurge in vote share of the Bahujan Samaj Party, especially in Doaba region, has forced other parties to replan their Dalit-centric strategies.

While some dub it a “temporary, one-time phenomenon”, others think it is a serious situation that needs immediate attention. Most leaders feel that the Congress and the BJP-SAD alliance ignored Dalit-related issues after which they chose to go the BSP way, seeing it as an alternative after the fall of AAP.

Now, some BJP leaders are learnt to be proposing the name of its new Dalit MP from Hoshiarpur, Som Parkash, for the ministerial berth at the Centre to show that the party continues to promote the community after Vijay Sampla.

Former state chief Kamal Sharma said: “Being a retired IAS officer, Som Parkash is certainly an experienced and educated face of the party. But such decisions have to be taken at the highest level.”

Congress leaders, too, have been alleging that more representation of SC leaders by the party was due even in the Vidhan Sabha. The SC leaders of the Congress attribute the BSP growth to the poor delivery of SC Post Matric Scholarship Scheme, non-implementation of promotions in government jobs for reserved categories, delay in undoing the policy change on electricity bills for Dalits, mass deletion of blue cards and no progress in Khuralgarh Memorial being raised in the name of Guru Ravidas.

Even though the BSP vote bank did not affect Congress much, SC MLA Sushil Rinku said he would urge his party seniors to streamline the Post Matric Scholarship scheme. “Admission process has started and if SC students will face any problem, I will stand for them,” he said, adding that his Jalandhar West constituency was not much affected.

Raj Kumar Chabbewal, president of the SC cell of Congress who was also the Congress candidate from Hoshiarpur, said: “The rise of the BSP is certainly rings alarm bells for the Congress. We need to work on some issues, including implementation of reservation in promotion policy of government jobs. SC scholarship is a problem from the Centre, but I feel we failed to explain it to Dalit students. We reversed our policy on electricity bills for Dalits but it somehow came a bit late.”

‘Save Constitution’ campaign, dera helped party gain ground

  • Sources said the sudden drift of Dalit vote bank towards BSP was orchestrated by making them believe that BJP was out to snatch their quota rights and they should come together to save it
  • It all became part of ‘Samwidhan bachao’ (Save the Constitution) campaign targeting the sentiments of the community, which is deeply attached to its architect BR Ambedkar
  • Balwinder Kumar, BSP candidate from Jalandhar who polled over 2 lakh votes, visited a centre of Dera Sachkhand Ballan at Kathar. “Its deputy head Sant Surinder Dass gave me a copy of the Constitution and asked me to protect it. I shared the picture on Facebook and the message spread like fire. It helped me strike a chord with my followers,” he said

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