Congress Plans Extensive Dalit Outreach In Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of 2027 Assembly Elections

Congress Plans Extensive Dalit Outreach In Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of 2027 Assembly Elections

There are also discussions about assigning new roles to prominent Dalit leaders within the organization to bolster its SC unit at the grassroots level.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Monday, July 08, 2024, 05:39 PM IST
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Congress Plans Extensive Dalit Outreach In Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of 2027 Assembly Elections | Representational Image

Riding on the wave of its recent success in reclaiming a significant portion of its traditional Dalit voter base in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress party has launched an ambitious outreach campaign to solidify this support ahead of the 2027 Assembly elections.

This extensive outreach strategy includes targeted membership drives within the Dalit community, identifying key Dalit influencers in each Assembly constituency, and organizing regional “sammelans” and district-level “Dalit chaupals” to address specific community issues.

“The recent Lok Sabha elections showed that Dalits have shifted away from the BJP, with many supporting the Congress and SP alliance. Congress’s strategy to engage with Dalits through sammelans, chaupals, or similar gatherings is a smart move,” said Rajesh N. Bajpayee, a senior journalist and political analyst.

An analysis by CSDS shows that approximately 6% of the Dalit votes shifted to the INDIA alliance due to the "Save the Constitution" campaign, contributing to the Opposition's success in the elections.

During a recent high-level meeting at the state Congress headquarters in Lucknow, a detailed 15-day action plan was crafted with input from prominent Dalit leaders statewide. Although the program has not been officially announced yet, initial sammelans are planned for Gorakhpur (the stronghold of CM Yogi Adityanath), Lucknow (central UP), Varanasi (PM Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency), and Meerut (western UP).

According to Congress insiders, these initiatives follow directives from the party's high command. "Dalits have historically supported us, but due to some misunderstandings, they distanced themselves over time. In the recent elections, however, they backed us, either due to our commitment to the Constitution or because of Rahul ji," said senior Congress leader Amarnath Agarwal.

Alok Prasad, head of the UP Congress’s Scheduled Caste (SC) department and vice-president of the UP Pradesh Congress Committee, echoed this sentiment. "Dalits have shown confidence in Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, and it is now our responsibility to build on that confidence," he said.

“Rahul ji and Congress were able to convince them that voting for the BJP could bring changes to the Constitution,” Prasad added.

Prasad emphasized the party's responsibility to reciprocate this support by addressing key issues affecting the Dalit community, such as land disputes, reservation benefits, and scholarship scams. "If the Dalits have taken a step towards us, we must take an extra step towards them," he said.

The party plans to launch a membership drive after the divisional-level 'Dalit sammelans' in Gorakhpur, aiming to enlist at least 1,000 notable Dalit figures from each Assembly segment. Additionally, "Dalit chaupals" will be held fortnightly in Dalit-dominated areas in coordination with district party units.

There are also discussions about assigning new roles to prominent Dalit leaders within the organization to bolster its SC unit at the grassroots level. The outreach campaign will also engage professionals from the Dalit community, including doctors and teachers, to address their specific concerns.

Many observers view the push for Samajwadi Party's Faizabad MP Awadhesh Prasad to be elected as the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker as a strategic move to challenge the ruling BJP, especially after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi underscored Prasad's significance in the House. This move is seen as a message from the INDIA bloc that it is committed to elevating Dalit leaders.

“This also shows good coordination between SP and Congress, as both were ready to promote Prasad, a Pasi Dalit, to a top post in Lok Sabha,” said Maroof Khan, another Congress leader.

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