'Congress Makes Dalit Leaders Scapegoats in a Crisis': Mayawati Criticises Kharge's Appointment

In Uttar Pradesh, political thinkers says that voters of Dalit communities have a chance of returning to Congress if the BSP leader and her party continue to be largely inactive.

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Lucknow: Mayawati, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief, has called the Congress – of which Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge was recently elected president – an organisation that makes Dalits the scapegoats in a crisis.

On October 20, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh also accused Congress of neglecting oppressed communities and their leaders.

“The Congress promoted non-Dalit leaders when it was in power; when it is out of power, it puts Dalits on the front lines…Isn’t this the politics of deceit?” she asked on Twitter.

“In its good times, the Congress does not care about the safety and dignity of Dalits, but in crisis, the party uses the community as a scapegoat,” she further wrote.

“In its history, Congress has always ignored underprivileged groups and ignored Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the Dalit Maseeha,” Mayawati alleged.

“People wonder, is this the real love of the Congress towards Dalits?”

Kharge is the third leader from the Dalit community to become the party chief in the Congress’s 138-year-old history. Former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Damodaram Sanjivayya were the other presidents of the Congress who belonged to the Dalit community.

Professor Ravi Kant Chandan, a political thinker who belongs to a Dalit community, said that there were some reasons why the Congress’s appointment of a Dalit leader as president might not be received well in Uttar Pradesh.

“It seems that Congress is consolidating Dalits in its fold, as the party has appointed two Jatav Dalits to significant positions – Kharge as a national president and Brijlal Khabri as Uttar Pradesh Congress chief,” Chandan said.

In comparison, Mayawati has been inactive in politics since she went out of power in 2012, he said. “Her inactiveness swayed a large number of Dalits in the Bharatiya Janata Party,” added Chandan.

Chandan, however, feels that now that Congress has given a chance to a Jatav Dalit at the national level, it would have got more electoral dividends had it considered a non-Jatav name as its UP chief.

But he adds that there is a possibility that Dalits may once again return to their old shelter, the Congress, in the 2024 general election if they perceive a reluctance on Mayawati’s part, to work on the ground.

S.R. Darapuri, a former IPS officer, feels that Mayawati’s comments are misplaced. “Mayawati believes that she is the only Dalit leader in India and she has a monopoly over their votes. However, she did not work for the welfare of the Dalits during her four terms as the CM of UP,” he added.

Darapuri was of the opinion that Mayawati’s politics has given rise to inter-caste conflict between Jatavs and non-Jatavs – which BJP has taken advantage of. Jatavs, said Darapuri, had also turned against Mayawati and have swayed between the BJP and Samajwadi Party in the last few polls. “The Congress gave an indication that it has some plans for Dalits by electing a Dalit president,” the former IPS officer added.