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Congress’ SC/ST MLAs set to double in three states

Of the total 181 seats reserved for candidates from the SC and ST communities in the three states, the Congress has a lead in 108, greatly increasing its count from the existing 42 SC/ST seats.

The Congress is set to more than double its elected representatives in the seats reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates in the three Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh while the BJP will see its representation in these seats decline by half as compared to the 2013 Assembly polls.

Of the total 181 seats reserved for candidates from the SC and ST communities in the three states, the Congress has a lead in 108, greatly increasing its count from the existing 42 SC/ST seats.

The BJP is leading in only 59 seats as against it present tally of 128 seats, accounting for minor changes once the final tally is out.

The dramatic switch in seats has been attributed by Dalit rights groups mainly to the Union and BJP state governments’ handling of the April 2 Bharat Bandh to protest the dilution of the of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the bandh had led to mass arrests of several hundreds from the community and claimed 10 lives.

This is visible in the considerable dent in the BJP’s share of seats in the two states. In Rajasthan, where BJP had its MLAs in 31 of the total 33 SC constituencies, its share has now reduced by a third to just 10. In contrast, the Congress, which didn’t have a single MLA in any of these seats, is now leading in as many as 20 SC seats. Likewise, in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress, which presently has only 4 MLAs in the reserved SC seats, is headed towards increasing its numbers by over four times.

Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar said that the SC community went entirely against BJP in MP and Rajasthan and voted en bloc for the Congress. He added that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to court Dalit votes through repeated references in his speeches to how the government has honoured BR Ambedkar’s legacy, the brewing unrest on the ground has cost the party heavily.

“April 2 is the singular reason for their defeat. Even today, 300 people from the SC community from these two states are in jail after being falsely implicated. Modi has tried to lure the community using the name of Ambedkar but the BJP has time and again attacked the Constitution which gave SCs prestige and freedom to live. Be it the Balmiki, Jatav, or Chamar community, all votes have gone to the Congress,” he said.

In Chhattisgarh, with its considerably high ST seats, Congress has a lead in 24 of the 29 seats with BJP ahead in merely four seats. BJP, which has its MLAs in nine of the 10 SC seats, has now reduced its share to merely two SC seats with as many as six seats going to the Congress.

The alliance between BSP chief Mayawati and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, who launched the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh after being expelled from the Congress in 2018, was expected to dent the Congress votes in the state.

“The anti-BJP sentiment was so charged that the alliance, in fact, worked in the Congress’s favour. Dalits and Adivasis voted against both BJP and BSP,” said Ashok Bharati, chairperson of National Confederation of Dalit Organisations. He added that a mahagathbandhan of SP, BSP, and Congress in MP would have entirely decimated the BJP.

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