UP Assembly poll: BJP wooing Dalit vote bank of BSP

Lucknow, Jan 30: With an eye on Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017, BJP is out to woo the Dalit vote bank of BSP which is struggling hard to keep its flock intact.

BJP, which has all the 17 Lok Sabha seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in the state in its kitty, sent out a loud and clear message by fielding Laxman Acharya, a Dalit, as its first candidate in the recent Legislative Council election and recently brought former DGP Brij Lal in the party fold to bolster its Dalit image.

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The party is in touch with several BSP leaders, who are feeling isolated or been expelled from the party in the recent past, a senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.

"The party launched a special membership drive for the Scheduled Castes after the Lok Sabha polls and there are instructions from the high command that senior leaders visit areas dominated by Dalits during the ongoing membership drive," he said.

Claiming that some BSP leaders were in touch with the BJP leadership, he said a former BSP MP and party coordinator, who was expelled recently, is in touch.

"BJP believes that its main fight in the Assembly elections will be against ruling Samajwadi Party as BSP is still struggling to recover from its dismal show in the Lok Sabha polls when it drew a blank," he said.

"With senior functionaries deserting BSP, the party has not been able to regroup its cadres and our strategy is to make this best of this scenario," he said.

When contacted, BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said, "Our policy is 'sabka saath - sabka vikas' and so it is natural for us to work with all sections of society."

"In the ongoing membership drive, we are getting support of all sections of the society ... the magic of those who follow the divisive and casteist politics is on the wane," he claimed.

BSP supremo Mayawati has, however, repeatedly stressed that her party's Dalit vote bank was intact but did not take risk of annoying her cadre and fielded Dalits as candidates in the Rajya Sabha polls.


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