Congress to focus on Dalit candidates in UP polls

Congress has decided to give special focus on reserved constituencies as well as the seats from where it has fielded Dalit candidates in the state.

New Delhi: Keen to better the party`s
performance in Uttar Pradesh, Congress has decided to give
special focus on reserved constituencies as well as the seats
from where it has fielded Dalit candidates in the state.

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday had a strategy meeting with
party leaders to finetune Congress strategy in Dalit dominated
consituencies of the state.

P L Puniya, one time close aide of Chief Minister
Mayawati and currently a Congress MP from Barabanki in the
state and Sirsa (Haryana) MP Ashok Tanwar have been given the
89 constituencies, where Dalits are in the fray.

Of these 85 constituencies are reserved for Scheduled
Castes while in four general constiuencies, Congress has put
up Dalit candidates.

The party has entrusted the responsibility to Puniya, a
former bureaucrat, who is now also the Chairman of the
National Commission for Scheduled Castes, for obvious reasons.

Being once close to Mayawati, Puniya, will be able to counter
the BSP`s campaign against Congress in these constituencies.
Tanwar, a former NSUI and Youth Congress President is a
young Dalit face from the Rahul Brigade.

The party is expecting a rise in its vote share among the
Scheduled Castes after Rahul`s visit to Dalit homes, which
also invited sharp criticism from the opposition parties
specially the BSP, which has been dubbing it as a "gimmick".

Congress has decided to appoint "observers with election
experience" in all these 89 constiuencies. "Observers for
these constituencies.

"Only one who is either an MLA, ex Minister or ex MLA
having previous experience in poll process will be appointed
observers in these constituencies," said a party functionary
on the condition of anonymity.

The party has also decided to accord top priority to
these 89 constituencies in the 403-member state Assembly
during the election campaign of top party leaders.

The demands from these constituencies for star
campaigners will get a priority to other constituencies, the
sources said.

These constituencies will also be given preference in
distribution of publicity materials.

In the meeting Gandhi is learnt to have told the party
leaders to focus on winning maximum possible seats from these

A senior leader speaking on the condition of anonymity
said victories in the reserved constituencies will give a
moral upper hand to the party in the Mayawati-ruled state.

That the Congress is keen to rope in the Dalit voters of
Uttar Pradesh was clear from Gandhi`s sustained visits in the
Dalit localities, something which the party has not done in
the Hindi state for a long time.

There has also been an attempt by the party leaders to
rope in the non-Jatav Dalit votes in the state, though
Congress has been wary to pronounce openly as it did not want
to antagonise Jatavs, the core constituency of Mayawati.

The party has tried to rope in various sub-castes
including Pasi among the Scheduled Castes.

Gandhi is likely to address a number of meetings in the
reserved constituencies as electioneering picks for the state.


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