Upper Caste anguish remains a concern for BJP
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Upper Caste anguish remains a concern for BJP

New Delhi, Sep 9: Amid bravado and confident note of doing well in the ensuing election season, the BJP leaders still remain wary about a perceived 'upper caste anguish' against the government on the highly volatile Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A section of BJP leaders have already cautioned the leadership on the possibility of disgruntlement amongst the upper castes on the stance taken by the NDA dispensation against the court order. "The anguish of upper castes is important in the entire political chess board. This law was more often abused....Moreover, Congress is trying to play up its Brahmin DNA card," a party leader told UNI.

During the just-concluded Monsoon session of Parliament, the Modi government pushed a key bill that seeks to overturn the March 20, 2018 Supreme Court order related to 'misuse of the law' and safeguards against instant arrest of the accused under the SC/ST law. The Bill has been given the nod in both the Houses of Parliament.

The new bill pushed by the Modi regime rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It also says no preliminary inquiry will be required for filing a criminal case and an arrest.

The BJP-ruled states Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have lately experienced strong protest upper-caste people — and at many places people belonging to Other Backward Classes — joined hands to gherao legislators.

The protesters also demanded that the policy of reservation should be rolled back and the 'restrictions' on misuse of the SC-ST law be "re-introduced". The protest scenes, according to observers in many places, were "reminiscent" of the anti-Mandal Commission protests that spread like wildfire across the country during the stint of Prime Minister V P Singh.

Even at the venue of all important BJP National Executive there have been whispering on the issue. At the meeting too, some leaders informally raised it and hoped the party leadership will frame a broad policy and roadmap to deal with the challenge - which at some quarters is also being described as the 'Shah Bano moment' for the Narendra Modi-led dispensation.

The reference is to Rajiv Gandhi government's 'blunder' when it tried to reverse a Supreme Court order which had said that Indian laws did not exempt Muslims and ruled Ms Bano was entitled to maintenance like any other Indian woman.

BJP leaders like Kalraj Mishra reportedly apprised the party leadership that the caste-based organisations influential in their own right - Swaran Sena, Brahman Mahasabha, Rajput Samiti, Kshtriya Mahasabha and Sawarn Sangathan have taken to the streets.

"These protests need not be taken very lightly," a key party leader remarked. On records, the BJP leadership is in denial mood about the challenge.

Fielding questions from reporters on Saturday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the BJP president "did not make any mention" about the 'so called pressure' being persisted by a section of 'upper caste' supporters against the party leaders in poll-bound states like Rajasthan against the government's decision on the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

"In vishay pe kucch nahi bataya (No he did not make any mention on these issues)," Ms Sitharaman has said. For his part, BJP chief Amit Shah told the National Executive: "There has been an attempt to create confusion regarding SC/ST issue, but that will not cause any impact on 2019 elections".

On the contrary, Mr Shah rested immense confidence in "the fragrance of good governance" under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asserted that the "charisma of Modiji" will fetch party convincing and 'bigger' victories in 2019 as well as ensuing state assembly polls in five states. (UNI)