Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Monday claimed that only his party had safeguarded the interests of the Dalits and said 33 per cent of chairmanships will be given to the community.
The former Punjab chief minister said all the communities will get “due representation” in the Congress’ ticket distribution for the 2017 Assembly polls in the state.
Addressing a Dalit outreach programme organised by the SC cell of the Punjab Congress unit at Nayagaon, near Chandigarh, Amarinder said he was aware of the problems of Dalits.
He alleged that the ruling Akali-BJP government in Punjab had “discriminated and victimised” the Dalits and during his meetings with party workers, he had found out that they were not even being given the blue cards.
Amarinder said the Congress will increase the cash amount under the Shagun scheme to Rs 51,000 after coming to power in the state. Besides, he added that the Dalit households will be provided 300 units of electricity for free.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi claimed that no political party in Punjab could safeguard the interests of Dalits better than his party.
He pointed out that not only was the CLP leader nominated from the Dalit community, one of the three Rajya Sabha (RS) members from the state was also elected from the SC community.
While saying this, Channi signalled towards Shamsher Singh Dullo, who is now a Rajya Sabha MP.
At this, another Dalit leader, Hans Raj Hans, got upset and said he was “denied” the RS seat as the leaders of the community had opposed to his nomination. His supporters then assembled in front of the stage and started raising slogans of “Valmiki Samaj Amar Rahe”.
Hans, who was on the dais, jumped off it to join his supporters.
Channi urged them to maintain calm and peace. A visibly upset Hans came back to his seat after about 10 minutes.
The entire episode played out in the presence of senior Congress leaders, including Amarinder, AICC Punjab in-charge Asha Kumari and AICC secretary in-charge Harish Chaudhary.
Hans was brought into the party by Amarinder. But, Dullo had strongly opposed to Hans being projected as an RS nominee and raised the matter with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Subsequently, Hans was denied the nomination.
Meanwhile, Kumari claimed that only the Congress safeguarded the interests of all the sections of the society and said it was in the “best interests” of the people of Punjab that the party returned to power in the state.