Punjab's dalits deserted Cong
March 8, 2012
By Tanveer Thakur
The election results in Punjab have come as a shock to the Congress,
which is still finding it hard to believe that it has actually
snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As the dust begins to settle
after the results, a picture is finally starting to emerge.
The one reason which is paramount for the Congress' poor performance
in Punjab is that its traditional dalit votes, which form 30 per cent
of the total electorate of the state, have deserted the party.
However, a look at the voting pattern of dalits in the last two
decades would tell that they have shifted away from the Congress. With
the Akali Dal allying with the BJP, the upper caste Hindu votes have
gone with the alliance and made it a formidable force in the state.
Ever since the BSP made an entry into Punjab politics, it has got a
slice of dalit votes. In 1992, the party won nine seats with a vote
share of 16.32 per cent, but by 1997 the figure was down to 7.48 per
cent and it won just one seat. The share shrunk further to 5.69 per
cent in 2002 and to 4.1 per cent in 2007. The party did not get a
single seat during these two elections. The share of the BSP increased
to 4.3 per cent in the current elections.
However, the Congress in the state has remained indifferent to the
slow exodus of dalit votes from its fold.
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