Amidst posturing and counter-posturings among political parties over Dalit representation in politics, senior BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi Monday said there are 2,500 public representatives from scheduled caste and scheduled tribes in the state now only because it was the NDA government which gave 17 per cent reservations to SCs/ STs in the 2005 panchayat elections. He said the RJD-Congress government had held panchayat polls in 2003, which was taking place after 23 years, without giving reservations to Dalits and tribals.
The deputy CM said: “Our government has recently announced that it would offer job to the next of kin of an SC/ ST person in case of his/ her killing. But this provision would apply only if the murder case is lodged under SC/ ST Act provisions.”. Modi was speaking at the 107th birth anniversary of first Dalit Bihar CM Bhola Paswan Shastri, whom he described as “embodiment of simplicity and honesty”.
BJP MLC and former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan said: “Dalits should learn to negotiate in whichever political parties they serve. The interest of the community and party must be aligned. Family-based parties have done a disservice to the cause of social justice”. Paswan called Shashtri and former Union minister Jagajivan Ram “extremely important icons who continue to inspire the younger generation”.
Paswan further said: “LJP, BSP and RPI are examples of Dalit-led Institutions that did not have far-reaching implications in the interest of Dalits and social justice…BR Ambedkar also did not succeed with his political experiment in terms of electoral success. It is time Dalits must consider working for more mainstream national parties as they can offer good representation”.
Kameshwar Chaupal, member, Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Nyas, said Dalits must learn to unite and build social capital” like the upper castes. “Since the days of Ramayan, Shabari and Valmiki have been the glaring examples of inbuilt inclusivity of Hindu Dharma…it is a good sign that Dalits in the mainstream political parties are gradually evolving at leading positions as well.”
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