Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav believes the BJP could see a repeat of its Bihar loss in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year, with a spate of controversies on Dalit issues hitting the ruling party.
“All these incidents will have their impact on UP results. Incidents like this (Gujarat) are happening in a number of places. Even in BJP-ruled Haryana, incidents of atrocities on Dalits are happening (a reference to the Dalit woman gangrape in Rohtak). All these will play a role in deciding the UP poll outcome,” Yadav said.
Asked whether a BJP leader’s remarks against Mayawati and the beating up of Dalits in Gujarat for skinning of cows would have an impact the same way as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on reservations had had in the Bihar polls, Yadav said, “The big thing that has happened after the Bihar polls is that the scheduled classes have come together. They have realised that the BJP is not a party for them. The population of reserved category is huge in Uttar Pradesh and impact will be there.”
The JD(U)-RJD alliance had highlighted Bhagwat’s comments, made in the midst of the Bihar poll campaign, and the BJP acknowledges it had to pay a price for it.
The JD(U) leader had initiated a short-duration discussion on the issue of Dalit atrocities a few days back in the Upper House, which had seen a heated debate over BJP leader Dayashankar Singh’s remarks against Mayawati.
Sharad Yadav, however, parried questions on whether the controversy could catapult Mayawati into power once again. Partyman and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already begun campaigning in UP against the BJP.
On Saturday, Sharad Yadav met the injured Dalit youths in Gujarat. “The manner in which they were beaten up is very shameful. There is anger among the Dalit community over the incident,” he said.
The JD(U) hopes to stitch up alliances with smaller parties first and then the Congress to have a grand alliance in UP on the lines of the one in Bihar. But with the Samajwadi Party and BSP too declaring their preference to go alone, the anti-BJP votes may get split.
Prashant Kishor, the campaign strategist for the Congress, is also believed to be trying hard for some sort of an alliance between the Congress, JD(U) and some parties in UP.
The BJP has been making concerted attempts to wean away Dalit votes from Mayawati. It had succeeded to some extent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when it had bagged 71 out of 80 parliamentary seats in the state.
In UP, ever since Dayashankar Singh’s controversial remarks against Mayawati, the BSP has upped the ante against the BJP, painting it as anti-Dalit. Other parties too have joined the issue, not wishing to seen on the wrong side of this emotive matter.