Thursday, February 18, 2010

[ZESTCaste] BJP to woo Dalits, makes special mention of disgraced Bangaru

BJP to woo Dalits, makes special mention of disgraced Bangaru

Thursday, February 18, 2010 18:41 IST

Indore: Aimed at broadbasing support for it, BJP has gone all out to
woo the Dalits with party president Nitin Gadkari invoking BR Ambedkar
in his Presidential Address at the National Council here and making a
special mention of disgraced former party chief Bangaru Laxman, who
belongs to the Scheduled Caste.

"Dr Ambedkar was a true humanist who gave voice to the voiceless. His
life best teaches the values of social justice and samajik samarasta
(social cohesion). I offer my homage to this towering leader of all of
us," he said at the BJP National Council which began its 2-day meeting

Soon after landing here on Tuesday, Gadkari, 52, had directly gone to
Mhow, birthplace of Ambedkar to pay tributes to the Dalit icon. He
also stopped on the way to Indore at the home of a Dalit BJP
Corporator Preeti Karosiya to have lunch. The symbolism of both these
acts has not been lost on the people and the party cadre.

Both Gadkari and his predecessor Rajnath Singh made a special mention
of Bangaru Laxman in their speeches here today. This is the first time
since 2001 that Laxman has been given prominence.

After he was caught on camera accepting a bribe of Rs one lakh from
Tehelka journalists posing as arms dealers, Laxman had to step down as
BJP president.

Since then he has been in political wilderness but with the new
emphasis by Gadkari on winning Dalit support he seems to be coming
back in currency.

Gadkari has said his aim is to raise BJP's vote share by 10 per cent
to help it come back to power at the Centre.

To achieve this, BJP should woo the Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes,
Other Backward Classes and Minorities, he maintains.

The new president has even invited criticism of copying Congress
leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been visiting Dalit homes, sharing meals
with the family and spending the night in their house.

Gadkari seems to be striving hard to match Rahul Gandhi and compared
Ambedkar with US Black rights activist of 1960s, Martin Luther King at
the National Executive here yesterday.

"Gadkari said the way in which Martin Luther King struggled in the US
for the rights of Blacks and got them an honourable place, the same
was done by Ambedkar in India.

"Ambedkar fought for social justice and made an enormous contribution
in bringing social equity in society," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar
Prasad said, quoting the BJP chief.

The comparison of Ambedkar to King, who made the famous "I have a
dream" speech on equal rights to Blacks living in the US, would come
as a surprise to many.

BJP's core votebank has been the upper caste and the traders, who
represent the Vaish community. Moreover, its votebank has primarily
been urban.

By wooing the Dalits, Gadkari may also be aiming at the rural votes
where Scheduled Caste people are present in respectable numbers.

BJP clearly seems to have jumped on the bandwagon, along with the
Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party, to woo the Dalits.

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