UP Polls: Congress attempts to woo Dalit voters with eight-point agenda

By Faisal Fareed, TwoCircles.net

Ahead of assembly polls, Congress has begun its attempt to woo Dalits with ‘eight’ promises.

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UP Congress President Raj Babbar flagged off the Shiksha-Swabhiman Yatra for the Dalits from Nehru Bhawan in a lackluster function in Lucknow. The event appeared half-hearted with many Congressmen staying away from the event.

With its promises, Congress also has given enough indication of its election manifesto for Dalits. The promises include—houses for every non agricultural Dalit with power and water, free education for Dalit students from KG to PG, scholarship of Rs 1,000 per month to Dalit students after class X, Suraksha Mitras in every police stations to safeguard them from atrocities, Vikas Mitras in every blocks to ensure that they get benefit of various social welfare schemes of the government, launching of Ambedkar Arogya Shree health scheme in which every Dalit family will be entitled for free medical assistance upto Rs 2 lakh, residential schools for Dalits at every block and Rs 3 lakh loan to every Dalit for his business.

The yatra includes 100 vehicles which will tour Dalit dominated villages for 50 days, covering 5000 villages, and staying for the night in the villages.

Though Congress began the yatra, the show remained a lackluster event with little attendance. Even two of its Dalit MLAs Gajraj Singh And Basidhar Pahadia were missing during the function. Earlier it was scheduled to start from November 26 but it began on December 4.

Earlier Congress has started Bheem Jyoti Yatra on the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar but it failed to get any response from the community. Besides BSP, the other party which has been successful in weaning away Dalits include BJP which got their votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Realising that it is hard to attract Dalits, Congress entrusted the task to its SC ST Cell which had organized the function. Such was the poor attendance that organizers had to remove the vacant chairs from the venue to escape any humiliation. Congress which claims to have nearly 200 senior leaders living in Lucknow failed to muster a decent crowd.

Even the leaders who attended the meeting confided that their poll prospects are now dependent on the alliance talks with Samajwadi Party. Only prominent Dalit leader was MP P L Punia who claimed that Dalit Yatras will bring the community closer to the party.