BJP national president Amit Shah asked party leaders not only to placate party workers, but also improve the image of the party, which had been tarnished by the recent Dalit agitations, projecting BJP as being anti-Dalit.
The meeting, held at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence in Wednesday afternoon, continued for more than four hours, where Mr Shah asked the leaders to hold a meeting at Dalit-dominated areas, so that they can dispel the Opposition propaganda of BJP being anti-Dalit.
Mr Shah had come to Lucknow for eight hours on Wednesday, when he held meetings at the CM’s residence with Ministers and senior leaders while in the evening, he met party functionaries at party office. In between, Mr Shah also had a meeting with Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party leader Om Prakash Rajbhar.
This visit holds importance because he came here, cutting short Assembly election campaign in Karnataka. Sources here on Wednesday evening said that BJP chief asked the leaders to use April 14 – the birth anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar – to hold meetings and functions in the dalit dominated regions. “The leaders including the law makers have been asked to spread out and hold meetings highlighting the work being done by the Modi and Yogi Governments about the welfare of dalits,” the leader said on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons.
This is the first time Amit Shah came to Lucknow after parts of Uttar Pradesh singed in dalit violence on April 2 where two people lost their lives and scores others were injured in police action. The situation took a turn for the worse when dalit MPs of the party unfurled a banner of revolt projecting party as `anti-dalit’. Some MPs even said that an attempt is being made by the Government to dilute SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Sources say that Amit Shah spoke in detail as how April 2 protest had maligned the image of party. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath gave details about his governments scheme which had benefitted dalits particularly Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana. “These schemes should be publicised,” party president said.
The party president also spoke about workers anger against working of government. “Why cannot we have a system where party workers can have regular interaction with ministers,” Shah asked. When Yogi informed Amit Shah that party had a system of `Jan Sunwai’ where ministers used to hold open darbar in the party office.
“If we had a system like this earlier why cannot we implement it now? The ministers should ensure that problems of party workers should be redressed. They are the bulwark of our strength,” he said.
Sources said that Mr Shah had also showed his annoyance over the working of present party president Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey. In his meeting with party office-bearers, he asked leaders to make aggressive campaign and work in tandem with the government to spread the message of good governance.
“Party comes first and then Government. So, it is mandatory that our party remains active and leaders remain well connected with the masses,” he said. Sources said the issues like reshuffle in government and possible candidates for the Vidhan Parishad election were also discussed.