Amit Shah woos Dalits, plays development card

Appeasement was on a high with BJP national president Amit Shah on Sunday making a bid to project the saffron party as pro-Dalit, while launching a scathing attack on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government for “failing to protect Scheduled Castes.”

At a scheduled castes rally here, both Shah and BJP chief ministerial face B S Yeddyurappa sought to dismiss Chief Minister Siddaramaiahs Ahinda image. Ahinda is the Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits.

“In Karnataka, the last five years have seen 9,080 cases of atrocities against Dalits, including rapes on women and over 300 murders. Dalits have become unsafe in Karnataka, and it looks like Siddaramaiah himself is heading this atrocities department,” Shah said during his 15-minute address.

Shah, who is on a two-day tour of Hyderabad-Karnataka, quoted “a foreign survey” according to which he said 80% Dalits in Karnataka were without shelter. “If you give Yeddyurappa a chance, every Dalit will get housing in the next five years,” he said.

The rally also aimed to consolidating right and left wings among Dalits, with both B R Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram finding a place in posters and banners the party had put up.

“I want to ask (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi – has the Congress let go of a single opportunity to humiliate Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram? It is the BJP that came out with commemorative coins, and is developing monuments for Ambedkar at his birthplace, at Nagpur, at Delhi and even in London,” Shah said.

Shahs tour of Hydebarad-Karnataka comes after Gandhi toured the region earlier this month. Both leaders seem to have followed a common template: Reaching out to Dalits and tribals, interaction with farmers and businesspersons and visits to places of religious worship.

Earlier in the day, Shah also reached out to the Koli community – fishermen or labourers, to which President Ram Nath Kovind belongs – by visiting the Yanagundi ashram in Sedam.

“I hosted lunch for Dalits in my house and spent a night living in a slum. Siddaramaiah is unable to tolerate the fact that Dalits are supporting the BJP,” Yeddyurappa said.

As he has done in the past, Shah attacked Siddaramaiah for corruption. “If theres a competition for corruption, Karnataka will be number one. Dalits, tribals, farmers, women and youngsters voted for Congress. All you got was a CM who wears a Rs 40-lakh watch. This government is drowning in corruption,” Shah said.

Appeasement was on a high with BJP national president Amit Shah on Sunday making a bid to project the saffron party as pro-Dalit, while launching a scathing attack on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government for “failing to protect Scheduled Castes.”

At a scheduled castes rally here, both Shah and BJP chief ministerial face B S Yeddyurappa sought to dismiss Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s Ahinda image. Ahinda is the Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits.

“In Karnataka, the last five years have seen 9,080 cases of atrocities against Dalits, including rapes on women and over 300 murders. Dalits have become unsafe in Karnataka, and it looks like Siddaramaiah himself is heading this atrocities department,” Shah said during his 15-minute address.

Shah, who is on a two-day tour of Hyderabad-Karnataka, quoted “a foreign survey” according to which he said 80% Dalits in Karnataka were without shelter. “If you give Yeddyurappa a chance, every Dalit will get housing in the next five years,” he said.

The rally also aimed to consolidating ‘right’ and ‘left’ wings among Dalits, with both B R Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram finding a place in posters and banners the party had put up.

“I want to ask (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi – has the Congress let go of a single opportunity to humiliate Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram? It is the BJP that came out with commemorative coins, and is developing monuments for Ambedkar at his birthplace, at Nagpur, at Delhi and even in London,” Shah said.

Shah’s tour of Hydebarad-Karnataka comes after Gandhi toured the region earlier this month. Both leaders seem to have followed a common template: Reaching out to Dalits and tribals, interaction with farmers and businesspersons and visits to places of religious worship.

Earlier in the day, Shah also reached out to the Koli community – fishermen or labourers, to which President Ram Nath Kovind belongs – by visiting the Yanagundi ashram in Sedam.

“I hosted lunch for Dalits in my house and spent a night living in a slum. Siddaramaiah is unable to tolerate the fact that Dalits are supporting the BJP,” Yeddyurappa said.

As he has done in the past, Shah attacked Siddaramaiah for corruption. “If there’s a competition for corruption, Karnataka will be number one. Dalits, tribals, farmers, women and youngsters voted for Congress. All you got was a CM who wears a Rs 40-lakh watch. This government is drowning in corruption,” Shah said.

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