New Delhi: As the party readies for Assembly polls in five states this year, Congress has decided to set up committees of AICC`s Scheduled Castes wing at panchayat levels on the line of its earlier `Aam Aadmi Ke Sipahi`.
Talking to reporters, newly-appointed chairman of the AICC Scheduled Castes wing, K Raju, said their priority was to identify and nurture leaders from the SC community and strengthen the Dalit voice within Congress.
"We will appoint a committee of three to five persons in each panchayat whose job it will be to hand hold the Dalits and bring to them the entitlements available under government schemes. They will act as a bridge between people and the government," he said.
There is a substantial population of Dalits in the poll-bound states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
Dalits, once strong Congress supporters, had later shifted to mainly the Bahujan Samaj Party after Maywati became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2007.
BSP candidates, however, did not win by big margins in states other than UP and failed to secure good results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.
It was believed that BSP had mainly eaten into the Congress vote base.
But now, with Mayawati out of power in UP, her pull is not so strong on Dalit votes outside UP. Hence, Congress has begun working on a concerted strategy to win back its Dalit base.
Raju said his wing would work on a four-pronged strategy for training the potential talent among Dalits for leadership,
The party would try to bring a Dalit voice to all forums in Congress and advocate pro-Dalit policies and programmes in Congress-ruled states and at the Centre, he said.