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Why Congress Doesn't Want an Alliance With Mayawati's BSP in Rajasthan

Dalits account for more than 17 percent of the votes in Rajasthan, which is considered crucial in forming next government in the state.

Narayan Bareth |

Updated:June 13, 2018, 12:34 PM IST
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Why Congress Doesn't Want an Alliance With Mayawati's BSP in Rajasthan
Picture for Representation.(Photo: Reuters)
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Though Rajasthan is known for 'ship of the desert', but Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s elephant has been trying hard since 1993 to make inroads in the desert state.

The Congress leadership in Delhi is contemplating to enter into a pre-poll alliance with the BSP, but grand old party’s state unit has ruled out any such alliance with the BSP.

Dalits account for more than 17 percent of the votes in Rajasthan, which is considered crucial in forming next government in the state.

The BSP has already assigned a task to its leaders to galvanise party's rank and file in Rajasthan. There are 34 seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste, barring two, the ruling BJP captured all the seats. Former Congress minister and Dalit leader Babulal Nagar said, “There is no need to form an alliance with the BSP. Of course, we understand that the need of the hour is to defeat the BJP. But the party should not go with a formal alliance.”

He said, “We lost all such reserve seats in last Assembly elections.”

It is also time for Congress to value its Dalit leaders and involve them in party affairs greatly, he added.

The former minister said Rajasthan is different from neighbouring states, like Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh.

Traditionally, the Dalits have always supported Congress in Rajasthan, he said.

PL Mimroth, director of Centre for Dalit Rights, echoed the same view while cautioning the Congress.

“More or less, Scheduled Caste communities support the Congress in Rajasthan but now new groups are emerging in the communities and have a different perspective over Dalit issues,” said Mimroth.

Mimroth, a leading voice on Dalit issues, said it was painful when the Congress maintained a silence over some incidents of atrocities against Scheduled Castes. He said, a mob vandalised the house of former minister Bharosi Lal Jatav in Karaui during a Bharat Bandh by Dalit groups and the party leaders did not pay any attention to the incident.

He also cited an incident of violence in Alwar's Bhiwadi when a Dalit youth was beaten to death on Holi. Two Dalit youths were beaten to death in Bhiwadi, but the Congress failed to pacify the grieving families, Mimroth said.

He said thing are changing fast and the Congress should take notes of such changes.

Contrary to other states, Rajasthan remains a bipolar state and no third party has managed to break the mould.

The BSP registered its presence in 1993 when it fielded 50 candidates for Assembly and secured 0.56 percent votes. In 1998 Assembly elections, the BSP managed to win two seats with 2.17 percent vote share. The BSP again won two seats in 2003 Assembly elections and its vote share increased by 3.97 percent. The outcome ousted the then ruling Congress and the BJP formed the government.

The Congress got 35.65 percent votes while its rival BJP managed to capture 39 percent votes. It helped boost BSP's electoral prospects in next elections in 2008 when the elephant entered the Assembly with six seats. The BSP secured 7.60 percent votes, but all six newly elected BSP MLAs switched sides with the Congress in forming new government. It was a setback to the BSP leadership.

The political observers said it gave a thought to the Dalit voters that a vote cast in favour of BSP will prove a futile exercise. And in next Assembly elections in 2013, the BSP fielded 182 candidates and winning three seats with only 3.37 percent of votes.

Former minister and Congress leader Nagar said, “Logo ko lagta hai BSP ko vote dena apna vote kharab karna hai (people feel voting for BSP is wasting one’s vote).”

Dalit activist Bhanwar Meghwanshi said for Dalits in Rajasthan, the Congress is party of their choice, but in the last Assembly and parliamentary polls, the Dalit voters were influenced by Modi wave.

He said a lot has happened in last four and half years and cited incidents like Rohit Vemula, Delta Meghwal rape case and violence during the Bharat bandh.

Given such incidents, now Scheduled Caste communities are wholeheartedly thinking of opposing BJP in next elections, Mr Meghwanshi added.

But it is also time for Congress to rise above mere lip service over incidents of violence against Dalits, he said.

Six Dalits were brutally murdered in Dangawas village of Nagaur district in 2015 and the Congress leadership left Dalits to fight on their own, alleged Meghwanshi.

Khem Chand Dhamani, who hails from Alwar, heads Congress party’s Scheduled Caste cell. He pleaded for alliance with the BSP.

Each and every vote cast for BSP is a vote for Congress. It is simply loss of Congress party and Congress should understand it, he opined.

He said in Alwar Lok Sabha bypolls, the BSP did not field its candidate and you can see the results.

“It is also true Dalits have reason to complain against the Congress. The party leaders were a mute spectator when scheduled caste people were beaten during the Bharat bandh and took little interest in supporting the victims,” said Dhamani.

Dalit activist Dr Omparkash in Alwar's Bhiwadi said BSP lost its ground in Rajasthan.

“It is routine when the BSP become active in election year and then the party give nomination to outsiders at the cost of its own rank and file,” he said.

(The writer is a veteran journalist. Views expressed are personal)

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