The only way these votes will not be divided is if all of them come together, former University Grants Commission chairman Sukhdadeo Thorat said.
In the Nagpur Lok Sabha constituency, Dalits and OBCs play an important role in deciding the MP, and political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, are pitching for their votes in the run-up to next month’s elections.
Nagpur is home to the headquarters of the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
The central Indian city also houses Deekshabhoomi, a sacred monument of Navayana Buddhism where Dalit icon B R Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with thousands of followers in 1956.
The Nagpur constituency consists of six assembly segments — Nagpur South West, Nagpur South, Nagpur East, Nagpur Central, Nagpur West and Nagpur North. Nagpur North is reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) category.
There are a total of 21,26,574 voters, including 10,45,934 women, in Nagpur, where polling will be held in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 11.
Analysts believe Dalits, especially neo-Buddhists, who backed the BJP in 2014 polls, might be looking for an alternative this time.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari is the sitting MP from Nagpur. He is pitted against the Congress’s Nana Patole, a former BJP MP.
The Dalit Buddhist vote holds sway in many pockets of the constituency.
“This time, the general trend among Dalits seems to be anti-BJP. However, these votes will be divided among the Congress-NCP alliance, Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and Mayawati’s BSP,” former University Grants Commission chairman Sukhdadeo Thorat told PTI.
The only way these votes will not be divided is if all of them come together, he said.
BJP MLA from Nagpur North, Milind Mane, however, disagreed with Thorat’s assessment.
He claimed that the Dalit Buddhist vote percentage in favour of Gadkari will rise up to 27 per cent from 3 to 7 per cent in the last Lok Sabha election.