After offering quota in jobs and education to the Muslim community, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi is turning his attention to other segments especially the Dalits, the Jats and the extremely backward classes (EBCs).
This is part of his social engineering to win the maximum number of seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
Rahul held a review meeting of the party strategy with senior leaders on Saturday and the focus was on the 89 constituencies where the party has fielded Dalit candidates. This includes the 85 reserved seats and four general constituencies where Dalit nominees are in the fray.
The Election Commission order to cover all the statues of UP chief minister Mayawati and her party symbol “elephant” and whether the move would benefit Mayawati were also discussed at the meeting.
The state has 22 per cent Dalits of which the majority are Jatavs – the community BSP chief Mayawati belongs to. The Congress appears to be adopting a two- pronged strategy of making every effort to wean non- Jatavs away from the BSP and trying to split the Jatavs so that the BSP strike rate is reduced.
Known Dalit faces such as P. L. Puniya, bureaucrat-turned-Lok Sabha MP from Barabanki and chairperson of the National Commission for SC, once Mayawati’s close advisor, and Ashok Tanwar, former president of the Youth Congress and the NSUI, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Sirsa constituency in Haryana, have been assigned the 89 Dalitdominated constituencies.
The Congress has decided to appoint observers – either MLA, ex-minister or ex-MLA – with election experience in all these 89 constituencies.
Sources said a senior Dalit Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh has requested Rahul to hold a rally of non-Jatav Dalits in Lucknow. They alleged that non-Jatav Dalits have been ignored by Mayawati who has been promoting her community alone.
The party manifesto being prepared is expected to offer sops to Dalits, EBCs, Jats and Muslims. It also plans to promise sub-categorisation of SCs in the state, a move primarily aimed at containing the Jatavs who have benefited most from reservation. It would seek to end the monopoly of the Jatavs much to the glee of other oppressed Dalits.
The Congress on Sunday betrayed its anxiety that the BSP may end up benefiting from the Election Commission (EC) order to cover the statues of Mayawati and her party symbol ‘elephant’ for an entirely different reason.
“People in UP are so upset with this government that seeing these statues in public could make them vote against her government,” AICC spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
“Covering them could actually dilute that simmering anger and she may be saved from the people’s strong disapproval,” he added.