A section of BJP believes that the party should make a Dalit leader as its chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017.
“It’s the decision of the parliamentary board of the party, whether it makes a Dalit or an upper caste its CM candidate. We believe in development of all castes. But, it will enhance the party’s prospects if a Dalit is made the candidate,” said Ram Shankar Katheria, BJP MP from the reserved constituency of Agra.
Agra is among the districts that has the highest concentration of the community in Uttar Pradesh. Agra has Dalit population of around 8 lakhs.
Ram Shankar Katheria added that around a quarter of state’s population are Dalits and have been voters of Mayawati.
“You cannot win the election without creating a dent in Mayawati’s votes,” the former RSS pracharak told The Sunday Express.
He said the reason behind why BJP did well in UP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections was because many voters of Mayawati had voted for BJP and Modi.
In Uttar Pradesh, over 22 per cent votes consists of Scheduled Caste Communities. Out of them around 60 per cent are Jatavs who are sub-caste of Mayawati.
In Lok Sabha elections of 2014, BJP won 73 of the 80 seats in UP in alliance with Apna Dal. BJP managed to get 43 per cent of the votes. But despite of not winning even a single seat. BSP got nearly 20 per cent of the votes which indicates that there was no major shift in its vote support.
“It always sends a good message to a community if its leaders are appointed to major posts. In the present scenario, a Dalit CM candidate would bring obvious gains to the party,” said Katheria, who, after being dropped from the union ministry last month has been trying to emerge as a major Dalit leader in UP.
BJP does not have any Dalit leader in Uttar Pradesh to successfully contest Mayawati.
Katheria has constantly spoken up against Mayawati and led rallies against her in the fast few months. In February, when a Dalit was killed by some Muslims in Agra. He attacked Mayawati for not visiting his home.
However, Amit Shah, party chief and Keshav Prasad Maurya, state BJP president have tried to devalue BSP and called SP as their chief opponent.
Katheria blamed Mayawati for “trading Dalit votes for her personal development”. He said: “For upliftment of Dalits, BJP made Mayawati chief minister on two occasions. But she failed.
BJP had made her CM with grace, but Dalits witnessed very little development during her term.