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Will appoint Dalit deputy Chief Minister if voted to power, says SAD; BJP promises CM's post

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Chandigarh, Apr 14: SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday said his party will appoint a Dalit deputy CM if voted to power in Punjab next year while the BJP promised to keep the chief minister's post for a representative from the community.

Reacting to it, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh trashed their promises as a political gimmick ahead of the Assembly polls and said both parties did nothing for the community in their 10-year rule earlier.

sukhbir

On the 130th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Badal in Jalandhar said his party will also set up a university after him in the state's Doaba region, which has a large Dalit population concentrated in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala. Dalits have nearly 32 per cent share in Punjab's population.

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"Once the SAD forms the government in Punjab, the deputy CM will be from the Dalit 'bhaichara'. We will also establish a university in Doaba in Babasaheb's name," said Sukhbir, adding that his party is proud to follow the ideals of Ambedkar. "We are committed to working for the weak and downtrodden," the SAD chief stressed.

Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh on Wednesday said, "if the BJP comes to power in the next Punjab Assembly elections, it would have a Dalit chief minister for the state." Chugh slammed the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal for allegedly trying to "mislead" the Dalits by "alluring them with false promises" of giving the deputy CM's post to a member from the community.

In a statement, Chugh ridiculed SAD president Sukhbir Badal for announcing that his party would appoint a Dalit deputy CM, asking "why not the CM".

"The Akalis should shun the practice of picking up a chief minister from a family and also from a particular community," said Chugh, whose party had an alliance with the SAD till last year, when it fell apart due to differences over the Centre's farm laws.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh dubbed the promises made by both parties as "nothing but poll optics". Given the shockingly "poor track record" of both the parties, which did "nothing" for the SC community during their 10-year rule, they are now resorting to "political gimmickry" to woo the community with an eye on the 2022 elections, Amamrinder Singh said.

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"Sukhbir Badal is now promising a deputy chief minister but has nothing to show what he or his party in alliance with the BJP ever did for the community," said the chief minister in a statement.

It is ridiculous the way the BJP had quickly jumped on to the wagon to promise a Dalit chief minister if it is elected by the people of Punjab, he said, adding that given the angst against the party in the state over the farmers' issue, even finding one winnable candidate would be a challenge for them.

The CM also claimed of implementing all promises made by his party in the last elections. He promised that his government will spend at least 30 per cent of funds under all government schemes for the welfare of the state's Scheduled Castes population.

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