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  Metros   Mumbai  06 Jan 2018  Dalit vote consolidation may worry BJP

Dalit vote consolidation may worry BJP

Published : Jan 6, 2018, 4:35 am IST
Updated : Jan 6, 2018, 4:36 am IST

The Dalits had voted for the BJP in large numbers, breaking away from the traditional Congress-NCP fold.

BJP Logo
 BJP Logo

Mumbai: In the backdrop of Monday’s violence against those returning from the bicentennial anniversary celebration of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune, the consolidation of Dalit votes against the government might harm the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prospects. The party has 14 scheduled caste MLAs from a total of 29 reserved constituencies, who might lose their dominance over the areas say experts. The party might lose its Dalit vote bank, which helped it in the last Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

The state recently witnessed the Dalit consolidation to condemn the Bhima-Koregaon bandh. Surprisingly, the anger was against the government with agitators openly expressing their discontent against the BJP-led government. According to Dr. Surendra Jondhale, a retired professor of politics, this is a major development in Maharashtra politics. “The Dalits were divided into factions and their consolidation to condemn the attack was important. The anger expressed by them was also against the government. This could be a new chapter of Maharashtra politics that will affect BJP,” Dr Jondhale said.  

The Dalits had voted for the BJP in large numbers, breaking away from the traditional Congress-NCP fold. Republic Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athavale’s act of joining the BJP definitely helped the party gain Dalit votes in various constituencies. However, the government’s polarisation on the caste lines has marred its prospects in keeping Dalit voters with them.

“The BJP was elected to power in 2014 by boasting about its development agenda and the Gujarat model. But after coming to power, it started its polarisation strategy, first on religious lines and then on caste lines. This will definitely affect its future in constituencies reserved for schedule castes,” senior journalist Prakash Akolkar said.

However, the BJP’s Dalit face and minister of state for social justice, Mr Dilip Kamble refuted the possibility. “The Bhima Koregaon incident was very unfortunate. But the government has taken appropriate measures to bring the situation under control. One should not make it a political issue when the government is trying to restore peace,” he said.

Tags: bhima-koregaon protests, dalits