Eyeing polls in UP, Punjab, parties bring Dalit issues to centre-stage
Political parties have blown the bugles of their election campaigns in UP and Punjab and it is the issue of Dalit atrocities that has emerged as the focal point to rally around. The opposition parties are now gearing up to corner BJP on the issue of Dalit atrocities.
Apart from BSP supremo Mayawati who reached out to Dalit population in UP during her Agra rally, Congress, which launched its second leg of poll campaign from Lucknow on Sunday, too is raising Dalit issue in the public meetings.
“Congress party has started raising the Dalit atrocities matter at appropriate platforms. We will be holding meetings with Dalit community in our two month long bus yatras in the state,” said Congress leader PL Punia. Congress leaders during their bus yatras across 65 districts of the state are addressing public meetings.
Also, a delegation of senior Congress leaders met President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday afternoon and handed over a memorandum raising Una incident, where dalits were flogged by gau rakshas. “Atrocities against Dalits are on a rise. Neither state nor Centre is doing much about the state. So, we gave a memorandum to President and we will be protesting at the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday,” said Congress spokesperson Shakti Singh Gohil.
Uttar Pradesh has 21% whereas Punjab which has 35% Dalit population. The fight for Dalit votes won’t be restricted to the states. The opposition parties plan to take the fight to the Centre’s doorsteps. The parties plan to hold a major protest in September in Delhi. The sources add that there might be a protest march organized to hand over a memorandum to the President of India.
CPI leader D Raja said, “Dalit organisations are coming together to register their protest against the atrocities they face in the BJP ruled states. Even Opposition is united on this issue. There is a plan to hold a major protest rally in the Delhi in September by the likeminded opposition parties.”
The opposition plans to build up the momentum on this issue before the winter session. JDU spokesperson KC Tyagi said, “As a united opposition, from Parliament to streets we’ll fight for the rights of Dalit community members. The Centre and the state governments haven’t done much to provide justice to the victims. We’ll also approach President of India, as he is custodian of the constitution, on this matter.”
The scheduled caste organizations have already declared that they are planning to stage a mega rally in Delhi ahead of Parliament’s winter session. Mobilisation of crowds in nearby states has started.