Congress seeks to repeat Punjab model in upcoming State polls

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first_imgThe success of the Congress’ Dalit outreach plan in the Punjab Assembly elections earlier this year has encouraged the party to attempt a repeat in the upcoming State polls in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, K. Raju, who heads the party’s SC Cell said.In Punjab, of the 34 seats reserved for SCs, the Congress won 22, as well as a general seat for which it had fielded a Dalit candidate. In the 2012 elections, the party won just 10 reserved seats.SP alliance fiascoThe strategy however, failed in Uttar Pradesh, where, again the Congress’ SC Cell had carried out an extensive campaign specifically targeting Dalits. Party sources told The Hindu that while the failure was still being analysed, two things were apparent: one that the Congress’ alliance with the Samajwadi Party had failed completely, and two, the success of such an experiment would be determined by the general health of the party in that State.There is also a sense that the presence of a powerful Dalit party in Uttar Pradesh, combined with the natural antagonism between Dalits and Yadavs — represented by the Samajwadi Party — and the eventual Hindu-Muslim polarisation would have come in the way.As one party source stressed, “We can’t work in isolation from the party not having the potential to win. It has to be part of a broader campaign and involve the Dalit leadership.”One-on-one contactIn the case of the six States now chosen, the Congress is in power in two, Karnataka and Himachal, and is the second party in the four other largely bipolar States.“We will activate the main Congress in every constituency, and conduct a silent ground level campaign. We will choose six to 10 Dalit youth in every village to make person-to-person contact,” party sources said.In Punjab, where Dalits account for almost 32%, the Congress had kicked off with a convention for them in Amritsar in September last year.They had declared that 33% of chairmanships in the State would be exclusively reserved for Dalits. Additionally, the party had promised 300 units of free power would be provided to dalit households.In U.P., the party had conducted a Dalit Yatra through the State.The campaigns were centred round three issues critical to Dalits — shiksha or education, suraksha or security and swabhiman or self respect.last_img

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