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  India   All India  30 May 2017  BJP plays safe in violence-hit Saharanpur

BJP plays safe in violence-hit Saharanpur

THE ASIAN AGE. | AMITA VERMA
Published : May 30, 2017, 2:13 am IST
Updated : May 30, 2017, 2:14 am IST

Dalits are equally upset with the BJP, and believe the Yogi Adityanath government is soft on the Thakurs.

Administrative officials and the police patrol in the violence-hit Sabbirpur village of Saharanpur district. (Photo: AP)
 Administrative officials and the police patrol in the violence-hit Sabbirpur village of Saharanpur district. (Photo: AP)

Lucknow: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh is now walking on a double-edged sword.

The casteist violence in Saharanpur has led to a deep divide between Thakurs and dalits in western part of the state and the party is now placed in the proverbial Catch 22 situation since both the communities had voted for the saffron party in the recent Assembly elections.

 

Thakurs are in an angry mood over recent developments. “The maximum numbers of our boys — five from one of my relatives’ family members — are in jail, and yet everyone seems to be blaming the Thakurs. Are we wrong simply because we belong to an upper caste? We voted in full measure for the BJP but we are not even getting justice,” said Ravindra Pundhir, a local businessman over phone. Five people from the house of his relative Mangeram Pundhir are in jail.

“The local BJP leaders are not doing anything about this injustice and the senior leaders are maintaining a safe distance. Apparently, the BJP does not wish to lose out on the dalit votes, and is trying to keep them (dalits) in good humour but this attitude is unacceptable,” said Raj Keshwar, a young graduate.

 

Dalits are equally upset with the BJP, and believe the Yogi Adityanath government is soft on the Thakurs.

“The dalits voted in large numbers for the BJP but the incidents in Saharanpur have forced us to consider our options again. My own house was set on fire, and the police has arrested my brother and uncle — is this justice?” asks one Prema.

Acutely aware of the fragility of the situation in Saharanpur and also the rippling effect it could have across the state, the BJP has restricted themselves to blaming the Opposition parties for the worsening situation. It has not done enough to directly address the reasons that led to recurrent clashes.

 

“It is a very sensitive situation. The CM belongs to the Thakur community and the local people want Union home minister Rajnath Singh to visit them. The party is avoiding this as it would only intensify polarisation,” a BJP functionary said, requesting anonymity.

The BJP had started wooing Dalits a year before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and as a result, the party won 71 seats, while the BSP could not win even a single seat. The BJP’s pro-Dalit policies paid rich dividends in 2017 as well and the party got an overwhelming majority in the state assembly elections. Any disturbance in its Dalit vote base could spell trouble for the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

 

“We are doing tight rope walking at the moment because we cannot afford to face any depletion in our vote base at this time. We hope to resolve the issues amicably and make sure that the opposition is not allowed to complicate matters”, the functionary said.

Tags: saharanpur violence, yogi adityanath government, rajnath singh
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi