In the wake of recent caste-related violence in Saharanpur district, the RSS and BJP have been meeting prominent persons from the Thakur and Dalit communities and appealing for solidarity and peace. Sources said the RSS got involved following apprehensions that differences between the two communities could tarnish the ruling BJP’s image. The incidents in the district are considered to be a major law and order challenge for Yogi government.
Earlier, BSP chief Mayawati visited the violence-hit Shabbirpur village and blamed the BJP for stoking tension.On Saturday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was barred from entering the village.
In the last three days, more than 30 such meetings have taken place in different villages in all seven assembly segments of Saharanpur — Behat, Nakur, Saharanpur Nagar, Saharanpur Dehat, Deoband, Gangoh and Rampur Maniharan.
Shabbirpur village is under Deoband Assembly segment but as the administration has refused permission to any political event here, such “peace meetings” could not be held.
Saharanpur BJP MLA Kunwar Brijesh Singh said there was no political agenda behind these meetings. “Everyone, including the RSS, wants peace. Both Thakurs and Dalits had voted for me. We are not doing votebank politics in favour of any caste as done by other parties. They were the ones who lost elections and are disturbing the atmosphere here,” said Singh who is also secretary of BJP’s western UP regional unit.
“RSS local office-bearers remain present in these peace meetings. Since they are not political faces, their presence gives a message that meetings have no political motive,” said another BJP leader.
Sources said that RSS Prant Pracharak Karmveer Singh and Vibhag Pracharak Pritam Singh had been present during a few of these meetings. “As entry of politicians is prohibited in Shabbirpur village, we are holding these meeting in adjoining villages and other areas of all seven Assembly constituency. After holding a public meeting in Shabbirpur village, BSP chief Mayawati tried to attract Dalits. BJP needs to control that damage,” said a BJP leader.
Saharanpur BJP district president Brijendra Kashyap on Sunday attended one such meeting in Baheri village on Saharanpur Dehat Assembly segment where he was accompanied by RSS’ Khand Karyavah Praveen Kumar.
“Vibhag pracharak Preetam ji has asked to hold such meetings and convince the villagers to ignore rumours, not get mislead by anyone and stay away from conflicts with each other. This is first such meeting in this village,” Praveen Kumar told The Indian Express. Preetam could not be reached for comment.
BJP state spokesperson Chandra Mohan, meanwhile, claimed that the Saharanpur incident has not affected public opinion towards the party as they were not involved in “caste politics” but refused to comment on RSS and BJP “peace meetings”.