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Udit Raj and Congress don't play Dalit card intelligently


New Delhi, April 24: Dr. Udit Raj, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from North-West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, joined the Congress on Wednesday.

MP Udit Raj being welcomed by DPCC President Sheila Dikshit as Congress leader KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala look on, at the party headquarter in New Delhi

He was miffed as the BJP on Tuesday denied him the ticket and fielded Punjabi folk singer Hansraj Hans from North-West seat.

Dr Raj had joined the BJP before the 2014 general elections after merging his Indian Justice Party with the BJP. He was fielded from the North West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. He had secured 6,29,860 votes and defeated his nearest rival Rakhi Bidlan of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by a margin of 1,06,802 votes.

According to the sources, though Udit Raj had joined the BJP but his activities were not liked by the top saffron leadership.

"The discipline is one of the core values that is expected of the BJP members and leaders, and Udit Raj failed on this parameter. This was the reason that the BJP leadership had decided much in advance not to repeat him in 2019," says a BJP insider, adding that the BJP leadership was also aware that he was in touch with the Congress for quite some time.

Dr. Raj, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, had aired views contrary to the BJP stand on Sabarimala Temple and beef issues.

In 2016, Udit Raj left BJP red-faced when he said Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt had won nine gold medals at the Olympics because he ate beef.

Denied ticket by BJP, North West Delhi MP Udit Raj joins Congress

"Usain Bolt of Jamaica was poor and trainer advised him to eat beef both the times and he scored 9 gold medals in Olympic," Udit Raj tweeted on August 28, 2016.

He, however, on the next day clarified that his comment on Bolt was "not even remotely connected" to advocating beef eating, and that he was merely reproducing Bolt's trainer's sentiments.

In July that year, Raj had also criticised cow vigilante groups and their attacks on Dalits. Then Raj was asked by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to quit BJP.

The source also says that a sting operation proved the final nail on the coffin for Raj.

He was one of the MPs caught in a sting aired earlier this month which purportedly showed lawmakers accepting the use of black money for contesting polls.

According to PRS Legislative Research, Udit Raj was very active as an MP in the 15th Lok Sabha. Out of other six BJP MPs from Delhi, only Meenakshi Lekhi and Maheish Girri were ahead of him in asking questions. While Girri asked 446 questions, Lekhi posed 437 questions. Dr Raj was third with 350 questions. The national average was 293 questions. On the rest of the parameters, Udit Raj was the top performer among Delhi MPs.

His attendance was 98 per cent against the national average of 80 per cent. He participated in 105 debates against the national average of 67.1, and moved 25 Private Member Bills, whose national average was 2.3 bills.

Udit Raj also proved that the BJP leadership was right in assessing him when he told reporters on Wednesday at the Congress headquarters: "I always opposed the BJP's policies."

Raj, who is also the National Chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, has also termed the BJP anti-Dalit.

However, it seems that both the Congress and Dr. Raj have not played the Dalit card intelligently.

"Dr. Raj had said in 2014 that Dalits have a brighter future in BJP. Till Tuesday, he was hopeful of getting the BJP ticket but did not succeed. On Wednesday, he joined the Congress and started speaking against his old party and its anti-Dalit policies. The whole episode gives one message that Dr Raj is an opportunist and the Congress is eager for Dalit votes at any cost, " Mithun Kumar, a Dalit and staunch supporter of Mayawati, tells OneIndia.

Dr. Raj had tweeted on Tuesday morning: "I am waiting for ticket if not given to me I will do good bye to party." In another tweet, he added: "I still hopeful that I will file nomination from my constituency and BJP where I have worked hard and proved my metal. I hope I will not be forced to leave BJP by BJP itself."

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