BJP’s ally the Lok Janshakti Party today said it would reach out to people in various parts of the country to highlight the pro-Dalit measures taken by the government, as the ruling NDA works to build its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections next year. LJP Secretary General Abdul Khaliq said the Ram Vilas Paswan-led party would hold events in a number of states, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka. Paswan, who is a Union minster, would have key presence at some of these exercises.
While the regional party enjoys little clout outside Bihar, the BJP believes vocal support by a Dalit ally like Paswan, who has been a key voice within the government on issues concerning the community, would help the alliance. The BJP has also asked its leaders, especially those from Dalit and tribal communities, to reach out to the members of their communities, following the passage of a bill to restore the original stringent provisions of a law on atrocities against the communities.
Parliament on Thursday passed the bill to overturn a Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe law. It rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs notwithstanding any court order. Khaliq said the Union government has gone out of the way to ensure the bill’s passage as the matter was already in the Supreme Court.
Dalit votes will be crucial to the BJP-led NDA’s electoral fortunes, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Faced with a likely united opposition in these states, the saffron party is eyeing an increase in its vote share to quell the challenge. In Uttar Pradesh, its two key rivals, the BSP and SP, have joined hands while in Bihar the opposition led by Lalu Prasad’s RJD has managed to win over Dalit leaders Jitan Ram Manjhi and Uday Narayan Choudhary to its side.
Stepping up attack on the opposition, Paswan had yesterday questioned the pro-Dalit credentials of opposition parties including the Congress and fired off 14 questions seeking a reply from Rahul Gandhi. He also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the quick passage of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment bill to address concerns of Dalits and tribals.