Chhotelal, A Big Name

article

Like Savitri Bai Phule, Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ and Om Prakash Rajbhar, Kharwar is uncompromising in his stand against the BJP and may make them count their coins

He is the one who raised the banner of revolt by Dalit BJP MPs against his own government. Chhotelal Kharwar, a tribal BJP

MP from Roberstganj in Uttar Pradesh, dropped a letter bomb on March 16, 2018. In his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharwar accused the Thakur Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, of “scolding and throwing him out of his office”.

The tribal BJP MP charged the upper caste Chief Minister of mistreating Dalits and neglecting the plight of the community members in Uttar Pradesh under his rule. Ironically, his revolt came at a time when the BJP was facing an unprecedented Dalit uprising against the ruling party in the state and at the Centre following the Supreme Court order on dilution of the SC/ST Act.

(The Supreme Court had ruled that no one can be arrested under the Act unless there was a preliminary inquiry, which is a reversal of the legal provision underthe Act that anyone accused of atrocities against minorities must be arrested immediately and tried later. The Modi government is now an the horns of dilemma on whether to bring an ordinance that will set back the law to its original form.)

“I met the Chief Minister twice to apprise him about the growing discontent among Dalits, but failed to get any relief. Rather I was scolded and thrown out,” charged Kharwar in his letter to the PM seeking Modi’s intervention to take corrective steps before it was too late for the party.

Pillar to Post

Kharwar had also petitioned to the National Commission for SC/ST on harassment of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and also met the BJP State President Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey thrice and General Secretary (Orgaisation) Sunil Bansal. Instead of paying attention to issues raised by him, Kharwar, alleged both colluded with his rivals to get his brother removed as Block Pramukh in his parliamentary constituency. “His only fault was that he was a Dalit and was elected on a general seat. My political rivals wanted his removal. My own party leaders helped my rivals to get him removed. It has sent a wrong signal among the community members. They are angry and vowed not to vote for the party again,” he said.

The tribal BJP MP also alleged discrimination by administration. “Being a Dalit, I am facing discrimination in my own constituency. Officers posted in Roberstganj don’t listen to me and ignore my complaints on atrocities against Dalits,” he further charged.

Kharwar even went to the extent of alleging that the police refused to lodge his complaint after an attack was made on his life.

He indirectly blamed the ‘casteist mindset’ of a few upper caste party state leaders who are negating efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party National President Amit Shah in bringing Dalits into the party fold.

United Force

After Kharwar, three more BJP

Dalit MPs, Savitri Bai Phule (Behraich), Ashok Dohre (Etawah) and Dr Yashwant Singh (Nagina) followed him and echoed similar sentiments. They all warned the party leadership that the Dalits may desert the BJP before the 2019 Lok

Sabha polls, despite supporting it

in the 2014 polls, if corrective steps were not taken immediately.

By ignoring Dalits, Kharwar tells his followers, the BJP will be reduced to its 2009 position.

He suggests the removal of state party leaders with anti-Dalit mentality before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, or else it will suffer serious poll reverses.

Earlier, Kharwar had shot to

fame when a video containing

his voice and visuals abusing a police officer got viral in social media. Kharwar had, later, issued an apology to end the controversy.

The BJP state unit leaders, however, denied allegations levelled by Kharwar and other BJP Dalit MPs. “All the four are turncoats and have come from BSP or SP. They are throwing tantrums as they fear losing tickets from the party to contest the 2019 polls. Reports from their constituencies are against them. In the last four years they did little development work and people are generally unhappy with their report cards,” pointed a party general secretary.

Sickening BJP

But the revolt by Kharwar and others signifies that all is not well within the BJP government and party state unit, led by a Thakur and a Brahmin. Both Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and party State Head Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey have often faced charges of promoting upper caste leaders, ignoring backwards and Dalits.

It was after their revolt and casteist charges that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched ‘dine with dalit family’ campaign directing his Cabinet colleagues to spend a night with a Dalit family in villages dominated by the community members to assuage their hurt sentiments.

But, instead of doing any good, the campaign was surrounded by controversies. Minister Suresh Rana ordered food from a plush restaurant outside, instead of having meals cooked by the Dalit family he stayed with.

Another minister Anupama Jaiswal kicked up a row when she publicly stated: “BJP ministers were spending nights with Dalit families despite being bitten by mosquitoes.”

After chastening defeats in Gorkahpur and Phulpur, the party should learn from its humiliating defeat in Kairana, where not only Dalits deserted the party but also Jats and Gurjars. With its shrinking Dalit-backward caste support base, it will be very difficult for the party to face a united opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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