Congress mocks BJP for cosying up to Dalits before assembly polls in West Bengal

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Kolkata, Nov 5 (PTI) Mocking the BJP for its Dalit outreach programme ahead of the 2021 assembly polls in West Bengal, WBPCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday said, the saffron party which has 'done precious little' for the uplift of tribals is 'now cosying' up to them.

Chowdhury was alluding to Union Home minister Amit Shah's visit to a tribal family in south Bengal during his two-day tour to the state.

The senior BJP leader on Thursday had lunch at the house of a tribal BJP worker at Chaturdihi village in Bankura district on Thursday.

'The BJP, which has done precious little for the uplift of tribals, is now cosying up to them. In fact this brand of divisive politics of BJP will not work in West Bengal,' he told reporters at a press conference.

Chowdhury also blamed both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress for practising 'competitive communalism' in West Bengal with an eye on vote bank.

'None can forget the atrocities on Dalits, minorities and women in BJP-ruled states and no action was taken by the administration against the perpetrators.

'Shah is eager to prove that his love for backward communities such as Matuas is greater than our Didi (Mamata Banerjee), who announced a development board for the Matuas and allotted a sum of Rs 10 crore to it,' Chowdhury said.

The WBPCC president asked what will Rs 10 crore do for lakhs of Matuas living in different parts of the state.

'If you have to offer them cake make it a large one.

Don't deprive many of them,' he said.

Matuas had been migrating to West Bengal since 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution. The community, with an estimated population of three million in the state, influences at least four Lok Sabha seats and 30-40 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.

Choudhury said, both the BJP and the TMC are seeking to take West Bengal to the 'opposite path of casteism instead of inclusiveness.' 'In many parts of India, caste is a major issue. There are over 30 castes in such states. Here in West Bengal, not more than seven castes are known. Do you ask me to which caste do I belong to or do I inquire about your caste? Caste system, as practised in north India, is now being imported into progressive Bengal,' he said.

Recalling that the Congress was the first party to have reserved seats for SC and ST communities, he said, 'but we had done it to uplift them and bring them to mainstream. The BJP and the TMC are attempting to create divisions among backwards for cheap political dividends.' Choudhury alleged that the BJP was diverting attention from the core issues of lack of industries and jobs by harping on issues like National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the contentious new citizenship law, for 'dividing people'.

Before the press meet, Chowdhury led a dharna at the Congress headquarters at the Bidhan Bhavan here in protest against alleged attacks on Dalits and women in the country.

Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya, Congress leader in assembly Abdul Mannan were present at the programme among others. PTI SUS MM MM