Dalit face of Congress Srinivas Prasad joins BJP

BJP aims to make inroads into Dalit vote base in old Mysuru region

With former minister V Srinivas Prasad joining the BJP in Bengaluru, in the presence of state president B S Yeddyurappa and other leaders, the party is hopeful of gaining a foothold in the old Mysuru region, especially rural areas, as Prasad is an influential Dalit leader.

Party leaders and workers celebrated the occasion, in the city as well as in Nanjangud, on Monday.

President of the district (rural) unit of the party M Shivanna, who was also a minister in S M Krishna’s Congress government, said, Prasad is a charismatic leader and a staunch follower of Ambedkar. “He definitely wields a clout in at least six districts of the region. He has also stated that he would tour the state along with Yeddyurappa to strengthen the party,” he added.

Despite having Dalit leaders like former ministers M Shivanna (HD Kote) and B Somasekhar (Malavalli), ex-MLC C Ramesh (T Narsipur) and ex-MLAs A R Krishnamurthy (Santhemaralli) and G N Nanjundaswamy (Kollegal), the BJP could not make an impact on Dalit voters of the region. It is still deemed as an anti-Dalit and communal party. Even when Prasad announced his will to join the BJP, his detractors ridiculed him that he was joining a party that does not believe in social justice. Most of the leaders in other parties project the BJP as an ‘untouchable’ for Dalits, minorities and the backward classes.

Shivanna said, BJP is neither anti-Dalit nor communal. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, time and again, stressed that the Constitution is the Bible for the nation. Nobody can go against the spirit of the Constitution. It has to be noted that the Centre has released the BHIM app, for digital transaction of money, after B R Ambedkar. The BJP is striving for inclusive growth and more Dalit and minority leaders, who are disappointed with the ruling Congress party, are expected to join the party in coming days,” he said.

Ex-MLC Ramesh said, with the joining of Prasad, the BJP gains more strength in the region. “Prasad’s candidature in Nanjangud by-election has been announced and his victory is certain,” he said.

District (city) BJP president Dr B H Manjunath said, besides Congress, the Left parties, which do not have the capacity to win even a single Assembly constituency, have been projecting the BJP negatively, with a mala fide intention. “It is the marketing strategy of the Congress to safeguard its self-claimed vote banks. But, the people, of all sections of the society, now understand the progressive stand of the BJP, minus appeasement,” he said.

“The Congress, which claims to be the custodian of the Dalits did not even give some space for the cremation of B R Ambedkar in New Delhi. It was also unfortunate that the Congress conspired to trounce Ambedkar in the Lok Sabha election from Bombay North in 1952 and also in the by-election of 1954 from Bhandara,” Dr Manjunath recalls.

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