New Delhi : Reaching out to Dalits, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he would strive to bring forward leadership from the community in the coming elections.

“It will be our effort to give maximum representation to Dalits in coming elections,” he said and hoped that Dalits would be the party’s backbone in time to come. He promised to open ‘locked doors’ for Dalits and attacked BSP supremo Mayawati for not grooming leadership.

Rahul said BSP founder Kanshi Ram started a movement to empower Dalits, but it came to a standstill after he died. “You ask in UP for five Dalit leaders and the only name you will hear is Mayawati….I want that there should be a queue of leaders at all levels, in UP, Delhi, at block levels, in villages…,” he said.

He said he would stand by them to ensure their progress irrespective of the amount of time it takes. No political party was giving equal rights to Dalits, he said, adding a systemic discrimination against the community existed.

He vowed to fight against it and said it would be a long battle. He said a few people in each party decide on who would fight elections.

There may 100 such people in Congress, 80 in BJP, two or three in SP and one in BSP, Rahul said, calling for a change in the present order so that leaders were thrown up from among the people.

Rahul has been making concerted attempts to win back Dalit support base from BSP in Uttar Pradesh.

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