The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is focussing on wooing NRIs this election season, particularly those from Doaba region – Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts.
Dalits and NRIs are a sizeable populace in Punjab, one that every political party wants to tap. The Doaba region has a large chunk of Dalits. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, NRIs are said to have played a major role for AAP, which got around 24 per cent vote share in Punjab on debut.
Apart from financial aid that the party expects will come its way through NRIs, it also banks on the influence the section will have on their relatives back home. With the advent of social media, party workers are now tasked with reaching out to as many individuals as they can.
“Many WhatsApp groups have been created to spread awareness among the lower class NRIs about plight of Dalits in Punjab,” said a senior BSP leader.
In a BSP rally at Nawanshahr district, addressed by party chief Mayawati, several NRIs are reported to have donated liberally.
“I attended Mayawati’s rally and will attend more before leaving for Australia,” said Sonu Memhi from Jalandhar, who is a cab driver in Australia. “Supporters in Melbourne will contribute liberally during elections.”
“We are still discriminated in by upper caste NRIs from Punjab. Whenever we visit religious places put up by upper caste NRIs in Australia, they see us as small people,” said Rajinder Singh, another NRI from Australia.
BSP state chief Avtar Singh Karimpuri said that though they have not yet visited foreign countries, they have a lot many supporters in UK, USA, Canada, Australia and European countries. “Our leaders are constantly in touch with them on social media to make them aware about the real conditions of dalits in Punjab and how they were forced to leave the state owing to discrimination under the rule of ruling SAD-BJP in Punjab,” he said.