Marginalization of BJP’s Dalit MPs

By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net

Out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, 71 returned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates. Two returned BJP ally Apna Dal and rest seven were divided by Samajwadi Party and Congress leaders. BJP candidates swept all seventeen reserved seats of Uttar Pradesh. However, a look at their performance makes it amply clear that Dalit MPs of BJP are extremely underperforming.

The numbers are from a report compiled by TwoCircles.net and sponsored by Indian American Muslim Council. The report can be downloaded from here.

MP_reportQvA

Let’s look at the plots first. Spheres in orange color are all MPs of UP irrespective of the party, blue spheres are MPs elected from the reserved seats. On the x-axis is the percent of attendance. In the first plot, the vertical axis is count of questions. As you can clearly see that blue spheres congregate mostly on the bottom right corner of the plot. This suggests that even though these MPs have a very good attendance record the number of questions they have asked is on a lower side.

MP_reportDvA

Second figure which plots attendance and participation in debate tells the similar story. If you look at the actual numbers these MPs have asked 1446 questions so far, participated in debates 496 times and presented merely 4 private member bills.

Let’s put these numbers into perspective. 17 reserved seats are 21% of total 80 seats. Total number of questions asked by all MPs is 7941 which means that these Dalit MPs have asked only 18.2% of the total questions, a number below than their actual representation demands.

The numbers become even more depressing if you look at the participation in debates. Their share in debate drops to 11.6% of total number of participation by all UP MPs. Is it a reflection that they don’t feel empowered to speak on various issues?

Private Members’ Bill is a tool available to MPs to push their agenda through even without the support of the government or the party. Even though these have not been very successful in India but many MPs use it to bring attention to their cause. Only four Dalit MPs have presented a private bill each making it a total of 4 which amounts to 4.3% of total private bills presented by all UP MPs.

Given that currently none of these MPs have made a minister (Ram Shankar Katheria of Agra was made a minister but he was dropped in 2016), it begs the question that when BJP has come with a huge mandate at the Centre what is it doing to empower the Dalit community? And if they give the list of schemes for Dalits, one has to ask why Dalit MPs of BJP are so marginalized within the party, government, and the parliament.

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