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BJP eyes Dalits on run-up to UP polls

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Lucknow | Thursday, Feb 11 2016 IST
With an eye on the Dalit vote bank, BJP in Uttar Pradesh has started campaign for next years Assembly elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party's national president Amit Shah scheduled to pay homage to Dalit icons Ravidas and Raja Suheldev this month.While Mr Shah will visit Bahraich, a politically sensitive district, on February 24 where he will pay homage to Raja Suheldev, the 11th century Passi king. The Prime Minister, on his part, will visit Ravidas Ghat in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, on February 22.Ravidas and Suheldev are both Dalit icons. While Sant Ravidas was a revered guru of Jatav caste, Raja Suheldev, a Passi king had vanquished a Muslim warrior, Salar Masood Ghazi. Passis are a big Dalit sub-caste and matter most electorally after the Jatavs.Please do not read visit of Mr Modi and Mr Shah with Dalit politics. The BJP never believes in caste politics. Our leaders are honouring them because they are iconic figures, said UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai here today. Although the Assembly elections are expected in the initial months of 2017, party leaders early start signifies the importance the BJP attaches to the state. The activities in the party had intensified after BJP roped in BSPs catch Jugal Kishore, a Dalit face in the state.Mr Kishore was reported to be instrumental in taking Prime Minister to Ambedkar Mahasabha during his visit to Luknow on January 22. After his visit, Mahasabha officials issued statements saying Mr Modi can be the next Kanshi Ram if he takes pro-Dalit decisions. They were hinting at reservation in private sector.Senior party leaders are, however, silent over these claims of Mahasabha leadership but say that Dalits had always been BJP supporters. In last few years they had gone with Mayawati but have now returned to the BJP after 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The indication was where party won 71 of the state's 80 seats.In case of Raja Suheldev, the party wants to highlight this Passi king as a Hindu warrior who fought to safeguard Hindus from Muslims.BJP leaders say Mr Shah will unveil a statues of Raja Suheldev in Bahraich and then address a rally there. All the local leaders have been asked to attend the rally. "Mr Shah wanted to visit the Suheldev shrine during his 2014 general election campaign but could not make it, they said. Bahraich, bordering Nepal has been communally sensitive long before the BJP and its precursor the Jana Sangh registered their presence on the political radar.UNI MB DS SB 1013

-- (UNI) -- C-1-1-DL0177-584431.Xml

 
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