Dalit killings indicate early elections?
LUCKNOW: The sudden spurt in heinous crimes in different parts of the state has given rise to speculation here yet again that the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are not too far away.
Chief Minister Rajnath Singh believes the recent killings of Dalits or the socially underprivileged by upper caste Thakurs in two different incidents within one week are part of a "political conpiracy."
Singh feels people interested in getting political mileage engineered thetwo killings. "I would not be surprised if more such incidents are repeated over the months to come since elections are not too far away," Singh told IANS. The current Assembly's tenure ends in October.
Three children, a man and a woman fell to a spray of bullets fired by a Thakur in Jehana village of Aligarh district on June 13. This was followed by the brutal bludgeoning of three children and two women on June 17 in Hasanpur village in Fatehpur district, once represented by former prime minister VP Singh.
Realizing the political mileage she could get out of expressing her sympathies at this juncture, self-proclaimed Dalit champion Mayawati made it a point to rush to Aligarh and Fatehpur where she called on the families of the victims.
In fact, even before other opposition groups, including the Samajwadi Party could start their condemnation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government over the incidents, Mayawati made her presence felt at the sites of the killings.
Charging Rajnath Singh with "utter failure" in checking increasing lawlessness in the state, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader demanded his resignation. "If he does not step down, I will seek the president's intervention to dismiss the government and bring Uttar Pradesh under President's rule," she said.
Interestingly, while a hue and cry is being raised over these two incidents, the killing of six shepherds barely 10 days earlier in Fatehpur district has failed to draw the attention of most politicians. "As no caste color could be attributed to the killing of the shepherds, it did not seem to interest the politicians," quipped Surendra Singh, a university professor.
Dismissing the charge that his government had unleashed a "caste war", Rajnath Singh said, "These are isolated incidents obviously engineered by certain political groups to serve their evil design of maligning the ruling BJP in the state."
What seems to give some credence to the chief minister's claim is the fact that a dispute over petty issues led to the killings in both cases. The killings in Aligarh were provoked simply because a poor Dalit laborer's bicycle accidentally hit the Thakur strongman of the village. And the plucking of a pumpkin by a Thakur's son from a Dalit's land sparked the killings in Fatehpur.
"It was amply evident that the killings were carried out by individual assailants and that personal issues had provoked both," the chief minister said. "Then where was the question of a caste war?"
On being reminded that in both cases Dalits had fallen victim to the high-handedness of upper caste Thakurs, he said, "Who ever they might be, they will not be spared at any cost. We have already arrested a few persons and the remaining would also not be allowed to go scot-free." But Rajnath Singh was clearly more worried about the criticism coming his way from adversaries within his own party. What lies ahead for him is a bitter battle against the opposition -- not only from outside but also from within.