The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh and the opposition Congress these days are engaged in wooing the Dalit vote bank. While all the big leaders of BJP are conveying a message of social harmony by having lunch at the homes of Dalits, the Congress is working on a strategy of conducting ‘Panchayats’ with Dalits.
The tribal vote has been very important along with the Dalits in the politics of the state. This is why both major parties have been trying to court the Dalits along with the tribals to gain power. The state has around 15 per cent of Scheduled Castes and 21 per cent of Scheduled Tribe voters. Both these classes are capable of swaying power.
The Dalit and Adivasi sections have been considered traditional supporters of the Congress in the state, but gradually the situation has changed.
In the Assembly election in 2018, the BJP did not get success as expected on the reserved seats. This is why the BJP has started working on a new strategy before civic body polls. As part of this, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and BJP state president Vishnu Dutt Sharma went on a tour of many areas and also had food at the homes of Dalits.
BJP state general secretary Bhagwandas Sabnani says, “The BJP naturally wants to bring the person in the last row of society into the mainstream. Working on the principle of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s ‘Integral Humanism’ philosophy it is in our Antyodaya programme.”
The Congress is also bracing itself with the BJP campaign. Narendra Saluja, media coordinator of State Congress President Kamal Nath, says, “The Congress has always made plans for the upliftment of the Dalit class, while the BJP only pretends to. The photo op phase begins soon. The Congress is really Dalit-friendly that is why we are going to organise Dalit panchayats.”
Political analysts believe that the elections to the civic bodies are going to take place in the coming times, which is why both parties have a keen eye on Dalits. Tribal population is less in urban areas, so there is not much attention on tribals. As soon as the panchayat elections come around, the process of wooing the tribals will also begin.