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Upcoming MP bypolls put BJP in a bind over Dalit leader who voted for Congress in RS polls

BJP is wary of a backlash from the Dalit community if it takes strict action against 6-time MLA Gopilal Jatav, who apologised for voting for Congress' Digvijay Singh by 'mistake'.

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New Delhi: The BJP is in a fix over taking action against its own MLA from Madhya Pradesh, Gopilal Jatav, who voted for Congress candidate Digvijaya Singh in the 19 June Rajya Sabha elections in the state. The MLA has accepted his mistake and submitted a written apology saying he voted for Singh in “haste” and didn’t do it deliberately.

For the crucial Rajya Sabha elections, the BJP had held a meeting with all the legislators and issued a whip to vote for BJP candidates. However, the six-time MLA allegedly voted for Congress despite the instructions of the party.

According to sources in the BJP, with the crucial bypolls for 24 assembly seats in the state expected later this year, the party doesn’t want to take any strict action against the Dalit leader. Of the 24 seats, 16 are in the Gwalior-Chambal region which has a sizeable number of Dalit voters.

“The party is in a bind whether to take strong action against Jatav as it may anger the Dalit community as he is a popular leader. It can also impact the elections adversely. The Dalit community has a lot of votes in the Gwalior-Chambal area where a significant number of seats are,” said a senior BJP leader.

Jatav, an MLA from Guna which is a reserved seat, told ThePrint that he accepted his “mistake” and submitted a written explanation too. He also met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at around 2.30 pm Monday apart from the state unit chief, V.D. Sharma, and apprised him of the situation.

“I don’t know what was going through my mind, I was in haste and by mistake, I voted for the Congress. Not even in my dreams can I work against the party. I have accepted my mistake and apologised to the senior leaders. I have submitted a written apology and explanation too,” he said.

“I will now concentrate on working for the upcoming by-elections. BJP meri maa hai. Party ne mujhe bahut kuch diya. Main party ka karyakarta hun. Party ke saath hamesha rahunga (BJP is my mother. It has given me a lot. I’m a party worker and will always be with the party),” he said.

Also read: Anatomy of a virtual rally — How the BJP is reaching the electorate amid Covid-19

‘BJP reviewing if there was foul play’

While the state unit is not speaking on the issue, the central leadership is aware of the situation and is looking at resolving it.

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, in-charge of BJP in Madhya Pradesh, said, “I have been told that he has given a written explanation and we are looking into it. If it is indeed a genuine mistake and there is no foul play, we will take a call accordingly. But if we find that there was a deliberate foul play then there is a particular way to deal with it and that course of action will be taken.”

Sources added that the party is studying his explanation and is likely to accept his apology and explanation.

“Party has definitely taken notice. Naturally, the party is reviewing it. It is also a reflection on how the entire process was carried out by the party,” said a leader who didn’t wish to be named.

“Carrying out cross-voting despite a whip is a major violation. Though it did not impact the results as BJP had a sufficient number, this kind of indiscipline should not be tolerated and the party needs to give out a strong message. It is the timing which is crucial,” said the leader.

Also read: The 5 key takeaways from virtual rallies by Amit Shah, Gadkari, Rajnath and Smriti Irani


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