Dalit leaders resent discrimination

From Satish Misra
Tribune News Serivce

NEW DELHI, Dec 4 - With party Vice-President Sangh Privya Gautam declining to accept an offer of chairmanship of the Safai Karamchari Commission, the resentment over discrimination against Dalits and backward classes persons in the party and the government is growing within the BJP.

While Mr Gautan was offered the post of the Commission a few weeks ago, reluctance of the party Vice-President to accept it emanates from his assessment that the BJP was not only ignoring his claim to a ministerial berth but was also giving a rough treatment to Dalits and persons belonging to backward classes.

The post of the Chairman of the Safai Karamchari Commission has been lying vacant ever since the three-year term of the former chairman, Mr K. Muniyappa expired. Mr Muniyappa's term was controversial as he was busy touring his own state of Karnataka and had failed to take any major initiative.

The Prime Minister is said to be of the view that Mr Gautam, who is known for his dynamism, would be able to impart the necessary verve to the commission which was set up in 1993.

The party high command, after making a Dalit the BJP President, had become somewhat complacent thinking that the new party President, Mr Bangaru Laxman would be able to attract minorities and Dalits to the party.

Mr Laxman has, however, failed to make an impact, as the two-month-long party campaign to attract the minorities, Dalits and other oppressed sections of society has not got a positive response.

In Uttar Pradesh, however, the party high command preferred to have a Rajput as the Chief Minister and high caste Brahmins on the president of the state unit, the Governor and the Chief Secretary. This decision had led to resentment among the Dalit and backward community MLAs and MPs.

The feeling among the MLAs and MPs is that the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and others are ignoring the interests of the Dalits.

Instead of bringing in Mr Gautam in the Cabinet, he is being offered the chairmanship of Safai Karamchari Commission, a party leader said. "Just because he was born in that community, he is being offered that post", the leader said.

Meanwhile, the backward class leaders in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have also started gearing up to counter the increasing influence of upper castes in the party. They have decided to organise a series of rallies in UP. The first such rally was held at Ranth in Hamirpur district. The rally was addressed by the Union Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs, Ms Uma Bharati and the UP Tourism Minister, Mr Ashok Yadav.

There have been no OBC leader in the top positions of the party after the former UP Chief Minister, Mr Kalyan Singh, was sacked, they have been telling their followers.

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