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Monday, October 25, 2021

BJP leaders attend ‘caste-centric’ events, SKM raises eyebrows

The saffron party, however, insists that it is not holding caste-based events but just attending functions held by communities following their invitations.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
October 15, 2021 7:21:11 am
Farmers protest against BJP leaders who had gone to attend a function held ahead of Valmiki Jayanti, in Hisar Thursday. The farmers observed Valmiki Jayanti at the protest site. Express photo

Increasingly cornered in the state in the face of repeated and vociferous protests by farmers, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are now frequently participating in social functions held by communities and groups belonging to different castes in Haryana.

The BJP’s critics term it as the party’s strategy “to penetrate among the masses and keep its support base intact amid the ongoing farmer agitation”.

The saffron party, however, insists that it is not holding caste-based events but just attending functions held by communities following their invitations.

A group of farmers associated with the SKM on Thursday held a protest against BJP leaders when they had gone to Hisar to attend an event ahead of the upcoming Valmiki Jayanti. Haryana BJP president, Om Prakash Dhankar, and Deputy Speaker, Ranbir Gangwa, participated in Thursday’s event. On Wednesday too, the protesting farmers had held a protest against CM Khattar in Gohana for several hours when they saw posters of an event — which was also to be organised ahead of Valmiki Jayanti — by Bhagwan Valmiki Trikaldarshi Society. Later the farmers were informed that the CM’s visit had been cancelled and his political advisor, Krishan Bedi, would instead attend the event. State government officials later insisted there was no scheduled visit of the CM to Gohana on Wednesday.

On October 7, Kurukshetra BJP MP, Nayab Saini, and state Transport Minister, Mool Chand Sharma, also a BJP leader, had gone to Naraingarh (Ambala) to attend a function held by the Saini community. The protesting farmers had staged a dharna against their visit and alleged that one of their fellow protesters had sustained injuries after being hit by an Innova car which was part of Saini’s convoy. Saini, however, said, “I had gone to attend a function of the Saini community. When we were leaving the venue, they attacked my car. We have lodged a police complaint against them. Our community is also upset with this incident and will also take a call on it separately.”

Gian Chand Gupta denied that the BJP is behind the organisation of such caste-based events. He told The Indian Express on Thursday, “It’s not that the BJP is holding caste-based functions…. people of a caste hold a function in which the BJP leaders are invited. That is the thing.”

He further said, “The communities concerned are holding these functions and are inviting BJP leaders to the same. Communities do organise functions in the memory of their ancestors. Such functions are not being held for the first time.” He also referred to different functions held on the occasion of Guru Ravidas Jayanti, Sir Chhotu Ram Jayanti, and for the upcoming Vishwakarma Puja.

On the other hand, a prominent member of the SKM, and Swaraj India leader, Yogendra Yadav, said, “They (the BJP) are deliberately holding caste meetings. This is a ploy, basically to instigate communities against the farmers.” An SKM member from Hisar and one of the protesters against the three new farm laws, Shradanand Rajli, alleged, “The BJP leaders now want to go to the public on the pretext of caste-based events. They want to spoil our brotherhood. We have urged all communities not to invite BJP leaders to their functions as we have announced their social boycott as part of our protests against the three farm laws.”

On the other hand, a senior BJP leader, who attended Thursday’s function, said it was organised by the Valmiki Mahapanchayat. He said, “Only a handful of people were participating in today’s protest. We don’t fear such protests. We held our functions even at the peak of terrorism in Kashmir and in Naxalite areas. Our functions will continue. We have the support of a majority of 19 lakh farmer families in Haryana”.

Chairman of Haryana Bureau of Public Enterprises and former state BJP president, Subhash Barala, said, “The BJP doesn’t believe in castism, but it believes in harmony of all communities.”

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