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With Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in target Bharatiya Janata Party suddenly finds Valmikis, one of the non-Jatav Dalit communities based mostly in urban areas a potential vote bank. Wooing them BJP President Amit Shah said the first five schemes listed on any ministry website are meant for the downtrodden communities, in keeping with PM Narendra Modi’s commitment to the uplift of those who remained deprived for decades. It is sudden transition in governance with a thrust on the welfare of the most under-privileged. Assembly polls for the state are slated as early as 2017. Since Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the flogging of four Dalit youths at Una in Gujarat by cow vigilantes, BJP has been persistently trying to win over the Dalit community and counter the opposition’s bid to paint the party as anti-Dalit. The community had voted for the BJP overwhelmingly in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the party has been striving to retain their support in the Assembly polls mainly in UP, where Dalits have in the past allied themselves with Mayawati’s BSP. Besides, the party sees its prospect in saffron fountainhead RSS’s vision of a larger Hindu Parivar in which the Dalit community is treated at par with others for which several campaigns are going on at present including initiatives like ‘one well and one crematorium’. Today party is talking about legislations, which have been there since years, to tackle atrocities against Dalits, a reference apparently towards widening the ambit of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in which numerous offences were added. What B. R Ambedkar dreamed about equal rights and opportunities to move forward is far different from the BJP concept. Talking of Dalit welfare initiatives of the Modi government and also party’s sincere bid to encourage Dalit leadership by power sharing at different levels of the party hierarchy during election season is to just encash for the vote bank politics.

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