With its eyes firmly fixed on the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party is reaching out to Dalits in the State, promoting among them the works done for the community by the Narendra Modi government in the last two years.
Dalits form 21 percent of the population, and all the major parties in the State have been aggressively wooing the community, which has in the last few decades largely been loyal to the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party. To expand outreach among the community, the BJP will convene a meeting of “prabudh” (intellectual) and “prabhavshali” (influential) Dalits in Lucknow on June 4. The meeting, organised by the BJP State SC Morcha, will be attended by party president Amit Shah himself.
Termed the “Samrasta Maha Sammelan,” the meeting will see politically and socially influential Dalits from 14 districts of the Awadh region come together to discuss the “benefits of the Modi government to Dalits,” a BJP leader said.
The attendees would include MPs and MLAs from Awadh (former and present), retired civil servants, Zilla Panchayat Chairpersons, BDC, former gram pradhans and social workers belonging to the community, Ramchandra Kanojia, State general secretary, SC Morcha, said. “We have invited even those people who lost elections — they must be having some influence in their area. A lot of work has been done for the Dalit society under the Modi government for raising their standard of living. We want these policies to be promoted in gaon-gaon and gully-gully (every nook and village),” Mr. Kanojia told.
The party has also started a programme to further identify such people who would reach out to the community with the party’s message, he said. Some of the programmes the party wants to highlight among Dalits are the Jan Dhan Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana, Mudra Yojana and the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, sources said. The BJP made huge dents into the Dalit vote share in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, sweeping all the 17 Reserved Seats in UP.
Setting itself a target of “265 plus” seats in the 403-member State Assembly, the BJP has also stepped up efforts to revamp its organisational structure.