Lucknow: BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday visited Uttar Pradesh to take stock of the preparations for the upcoming legislative council polls in the state and meet the party's 'sulking' alliance partners. The BJP national president, who took a day's off from the Karnataka assembly campaign, is understood to have taken a look at the names of probable party candidates for the legislative council polls.
The elections to the 13 seats will be held on April 26 with the ruling BJP being certain of winning at least 11 seats, going by its brute majority in the state legislative assembly.
Shah began his tour by garlanding the statue of Jyotibha Phule, sending a message that the saffron party did not want to keep the Dalits at an arms distance at a time when the Lok Sabha polls were barely a few months away.
"With party MPs Savitribai Phoole, Ashok Dohrey, Chhotelal, Yashwant Singh virtually raising a banner of revolt against Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath, Shah had a long discussion with the chief minister at the latter's 5 Kalidas Marg residence to assuage their hurt sentiments. The parliamentarians had written about their discontent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi," a senior party leader said.
UP deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey were also present during the discussion, he said.
The party leader said the Lok Sabha bypoll debacle of Gorakhpur and Phulpur also figured in the meeting.
The outburst of the four parliamentarians and another BJP MP Udit Raj came at a time when the country witnessed a public outcry against the Supreme Court's order on the SC/ST Act, which the Dalit leaders said was an attempt to "dilute" the law.
After facing strident criticism from the Opposition on Dalit issues, the BJP is also grappling with a rising voice of discontent among its own MPs belonging to the Scheduled Castes in Uttar Pradesh.
Lok Sabha members from Etawah and Nagina, Ashok Kumar Dohrey and Yashwant Singh respectively, are the latest to join their Dalit colleagues from the party to criticise the UP government.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dohrey had alleged that the Dalits and tribals across the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh, were being framed by the police in false cases after the protests, leading to growing insecurity among them.
Yashwant Singh, meanwhile, had reportedly said that nothing had been done for Dalits in the last four years.
Party insiders also said that the BJP's sulking ally, SBSP leader O P Rajbhar, who is also a cabinet minister, presented his case before Shah.
Rajbhar told PTI, "I raised the issue of quota within quota for the most backward classes. Apart from this, discrepancies pertaining to ration cards, housing, toilets, pensions and scholarship were also discussed.
Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has four MLAs in the state assembly. He had threatened to boycott last month's Rajya Sabha biennial election.
Apna Dal (Sonelal) leader Ashish Patel also met the BJP president. "The meeting with the BJP chief was held in a very cordial atmosphere. We spoke for adequate representation of Dalits and backward classes at police stations and Tehsil offices, and we were told that our demands will be looked into," he said.