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BJP MLA accuses J&K state chief of being ‘anti-Dalit’, conspiring against own ministers

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Bhagat alleges Sat Paul Sharma and gen secy Ashok Kaul set ministers Lal Singh & Ganga up as fall guys in the Kathua case, because they wanted their berths.

New Delhi: Dina Nath Bhagat, the BJP MLA from Chenani constituency in the Jammu region, has stepped up his revolt against the party’s state unit. Days after being excluded from a cabinet reshuffle and accusing the state unit of being anti-Dalit, he not only reiterated his stance, but also directly accused J&K BJP chief Sat Paul Sharma and general secretary (organisation) Ashok Kaul, claiming he had witnessed many examples of their “anti-Dalit attitude”.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, there is one group of BJP members, which includes the president of the state unit and the general secretary (organisation), along with a team of two to four more members, who have formed a lobby and are anti-Dalit,” Bhagat told ThePrint.

“In the last three years, they’ve only made one Dalit MLA a minister. Even after the reshuffle, there is only one Dalit minister. So there has been injustice towards us.”

In 2014, the BJP had won all 25 seats it had contested in the region; seven of the victorious MLAs were Dalits. He said the MLA-to-minister proportions for all other communities was higher than for Dalits.

Bhagat claimed another example of this anti-Dalit attitude was on display when the Chenani-Nashri road tunnel was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2017. The MLAs on both sides of the tunnel were Dalits, he said, but neither of them was invited to share the stage with their PM, and nor did their names feature on any of the commemorative plaques. This, Bhagat claimed, was a “violation of protocol”.

“The Jammu unit did this. They think if they would have written the name of Dalits then it would cause them insult, because Sharma is an upper-class Brahmin,” he said.

Bhagat also said for the past two years, he had been fighting for reservation in promotions for Dalits in the J&K assembly, but his efforts had not borne any fruit. “They have not given Dalits their share and rights. It is clear that Jammu’s BJP unit is anti-Dalit,” he reiterated.

A ‘conspiracy’ against Lal Singh & Ganga

Bhagat alleged that there was a carefully-planned conspiracy by members of the BJP itself to remove Chander Prakash Ganga and Chaudhary Lal Singh from the J&K cabinet. The two ministers had asked for a CBI inquiry into the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

“They were sent by the party – Sat Paul Sharma and Ashok Kaul – to listen to what the people were saying. The people wanted a CBI inquiry. They just came back and said there should be a CBI inquiry. They were thrown out of the cabinet based on this request,” he alleged.

According to Bhagat, after this, Sharma, attempted to induct himself into the cabinet and became a minister. The very next day, Ram Madhav, national general secretary of the BJP and the man in charge of J&K, “came and gave a clean chit to Ganga and Lal Singh”, maintaining that the demand for a CBI inquiry was right.

“Then why were they removed from the cabinet? It was conspiracy to remove the two ministers and for themselves (Sharma and Kaul) to become cabinet members,” Bhagat added. He didn’t spare Ram Madhav either, saying he too was part of the conspiracy.

BJP’s bleak future in Jammu

Bhagat spoke of the lack of development in the Jammu division, “despite the generous flow of funds from the Centre”. He maintained that the region lacks basic facilities like clean water, electricity and proper roads, since it faces “discrimination from the J&K government”.

He also referred to the incident were Kavinder Gupta, now deputy CM, had said the Kathua case was a “small” issue, adding: “The people are getting angry with the BJP, whether they are Dalits or upper castes. The whole of Jammu is very upset with them, and in the time to come, the BJP’s position is going to get worse.”

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