Voice of oppressed bats for AAP

Voice of oppressed bats for AAP

One of the AAP’s star campaigner in Punjab is not a celebrity, but Bant Singh, a Dalit who lives the day on a wheelchair and now sings paeans to the AAP and Kejriwal at rallies. Over the years, Bant has become a voice for the oppressed Dalits in Punjab.

His limbs were chopped off after he fought for justice following the rape of his daughter by three members of the upper caste.

For the AAP, Bant could help its electoral fortunes. Like the AAP, many other parties, including the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine, are eyeing Dalit votes.

Punjab has the highest percentage of Dalit population in India at nearly 32%. Ironically, Dalits not only have just about 3.2% of land holding, their leadership and representation has remained minuscule here.

Despite their large numbers, Dalit votes have remained scattered. Their divisions in several sub-castes has long led to only marginalised Dalit leadership much to the advantage of mainstream political parties.

All parties have promised the moon for Dalits – from free houses, to land, Rs 51,000 for daughters’ marriage, collateral free loan of Rs 2 lakh and more. Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal took the advantage away from the Congress and the Akali Dal by announcing for the first time a Dalit face as deputy chief minister of Punjab – a masterstroke that attempted to celebrate the identity and assertion of this community.

Mayawati-led BSP, which is contesting Punjab elections independently, has failed to impress its core constituents. BSP’s vote share has been consistently on the wane.

Its best performance was a quarter of a century ago in 1992 when it secured over 16% of the vote share and 9 Assembly seats. Just five year later in 1997, its vote share plunged to just over 7% with just one winning MLA.

 In the last election , the BSP could manage just over 4% of vote share in Punjab.
Punjab has seen incidents of Dalit atrocity and caste conflicts in the last few years that tend to hurt the image of the ruling dispensation.
DH News Service

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