Caste and politics are inextricable factors in our country. As politically crucial Uttar Pradesh is gearing up for the state Assembly elections next year, parties are busy finalising strategy to gain the maximum share of the caste vote bank. BJP’s national president Amit Shah seems to have found ways to woo Dalits. Be it dining and having lunch with Dalits or raising B R Ambedkar’s issue, Shah has tried everything to project the party as a trusted friend of the community. As per the 2011 Census, Uttar Pradesh accounts for 20.5% of country’s Dalits population. According to The Indian Express report, Shah had taken swipes at all political opponents —- the Congress, BSP and the Samajwadi Party – for “exploiting” the community for narrow political ends, and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading a “government of Dalits, the deprived, backwards and the poor.
Pointing out that although Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi claims the Congress is a “messiah of Dalits”, and Mayawati has also made “tall claims” of representing the community, Shah said, “Rahulji is projecting himself as the messiah of Dalits. His ‘nana’ (Jawaharlal Nehru) did not allow (B R) Ambedkar to go to Parliament … Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati have exploited Dalits for their own political interests whenever they have got an opportunity.”
He said that while other parties are making tall claims, “governments under the BJP have developed places linked to the life of Babasaheb”.
Earlier, during his visit to Uttar Pradesh in June, he dined with OBCs and Dalits. Pictures of Mr. Shah sharing the meal were circulated on the social media.
In August, following Dalit protests over the Gujarat’s Una flogging incident, Shah visited the Malihabad home of Kaushal Kishore, BJP MP from Mohanlalganj, who had organised a lunch to which Dalits had been invited.
He also had stressed that BJP got the support of Dalits during last Lok Sabha polls and PM Modi came to power with Dalits’ blessings.
BJP won 72 out of 80 seats from Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and is aiming to govern the state.