Dalit votebank has another claimant

By Archana Srivastava
The Times of India News Service

LUCKNOW: As the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections draws closer, a hapless Congress party has launched an exercise to woo one of its traditional supporters, the schedule castes, in a bid to stage a recovery in the state.

How much success will eventually come its way remains to be seen in view of the fact that the SC or Dalit votebank already has many claimants.

In the light of this, the Congress efforts to win over the SCs has come a bit too late in the day. In fact the Congress's strategy appears to be misplaced and out of sync with the essential nature of present day Dalit politics which revolves around power. It has sought to focus attention on the job quota requirements for the SC/STs and the BJP's reluctance to fill the same. As UPCC president Shri Prakash Jaiswal said: "There is a possibility that the Rajnath Singh government might abolish all the 30,000 vacant posts for SC/STs in government departments."

The Congress concern for the growing backlog is laudable but it has sought to raise an issue for which the beneficiaries themselves are not much bothered. These issues have no relevance to electoral politics when capturing power assumes topmost priority.

What indeed is relevant is why the SC would go for the Congress when they had a more credible alternative in the Bahujan Samaj Party. Next in line are the Samajwadi Party and the Bhartiya Janata Party.

For obvious reasons, the SCs like the minorities would support a party which stood a better chance to form a government. Given the chances of a coalition government taking shape, here also the SCs would pitch in for a party which would head the coalition or would be a part of it. The present state of the Congress and its dismal track record in the recently held by-elections belies any hope of the SCs being lured by any overtures made by it.

But the Congressmen are unfazed and on the contrary are optimistic that the atrocities against the Dalits in the BJP rule would go against the saffron party and work in its favour. As Jaiswal points out "incidents of atrocities against the Dalits have become the order of the day under the present regime." The UP Congress will launch an agitation against the injustice being done to the SCs, through which it hopes to turn the tide in its favour.

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Referred by: Sashi Kanth
Published on: June 19, 2001
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