The aged-old Congress party has a history of making the Dalit community, suffer throughout the country. Recently, the party has been accused of cheating and insulting the Dalit community and for using Charanjit Singh Channi to grab the Dalit vote share in upcoming Punjab Assembly elections. However, it is being assumed that Navjot Singh Sidhu will officially replace Channi as Congress has a history of denying power to Dalits.
Sidhu in, Channi out
A few days back, Charanjit Singh Channi took over as Punjab’s Chief Minister a day after Amarinder resigned from the post. Charanjit Singh Channi is the first-ever Dalit CM in Punjab. However, Congress, moving along with its record to sideline the Dalit community in the state, inducted Channi for 3 months only. Additionally, Harish Rawat, a leader of the Indian National Congress, also claimed that the upcoming assembly polls will be fought under the leadership of state president Navjot Singh Sidhu.
With Harish Rawat’s statement, several Ministers began calling out the party’s decision. BJP’s Punjab in-charge Dushyant Gautam stated that it is an insult to a particular community to announce that elections will be fought under someone else the same day when a Dalit was sworn in as chief minister.
He further added, “They make Dalits Chief Minister for two to three months and then dump them. Look at what Jakhar is saying. In 2003-04 the state was Maharashtra, it was Vilas Rao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde was made CM and after winning polls. Shinde was thrown out.”
Dalits ignored by Congress
However, it was Channi only who once led a revolt in the state unit of the ruling Congress to strategise “against the step-motherly treatment meted out to them”. Earlier in 2018, The MLAs, upset at the “poor representation” of Dalits in the cabinet, claimed that the SCs which constitute 32.5 per cent of the state’s population has been given only three Cabinet berths.
During a meeting at Channi’s house, an MLA told The Indian Express that ever since the government took over in Punjab, Dalits have been feeling ignored. He added, “It all started from the appointment of law officers. Out of 125 nominated, only five are Dalits. Channi had taken up the matter in the Cabinet meeting soon after, but he was fobbed off.”
No Dalit CM for Congress
Earlier in 2018, ahead of Karnataka’s Assembly elections, the Congress, to strike an alliance with the JD(S) presented a Dalit chief ministerial candidate but later refused to continue with that. Kalburgi Mallikarjuna Kharge, a Congress veteran leader had said, “I have never applied for the CM’s post as a dalit. If they are ashamed to accept me as a leader, let them consider me as a senior party-worker. I welcome if the party considers me for the top post based on my seniority and not because of my caste.”
BJP Bellary MP B. Sriramulu also alleged that it is Congress Party’s “desperation” to hold on to power. He had said, “Fear of defeat in both seats is the reason for Siddaramaiah’s statement. There are so many dalit leaders in the Congress any one could have become the CM. But it is only today that Siddaramaiah remembered the marginalised community. If Congress had concern towards dalits, why did they declare Siddaramaiah as the CM last time? After the post poll surveys, Siddaramaiah has realised that his party will not win and he too will lose. So, he is now readily offering the CM seat to a dalit. What kind of a leader is he? Why did Siddaramaiah suddenly remember the dalits? He could have told the high command earlier too. Are we so low?”
‘Denied CM post thrice because I am a Dalit’- Karnataka deputy CM G Parameshwara
Moreover, in 2019, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara accused his government of denying him the chief minister’s chair in the state thrice because he belonged to the Dalit community. He also alleged that there were attempts by the Congress party to stop the rise of Dalit leaders.
Pointing out a caste bias to decide the Chief Minister, Parameshwara had said, “Basavalingappa missed the chief ministerial post and so did K H Ranganath. My elder brother Mallikarjuna Kharge also could not become the CM. I missed it thrice. Somehow after much dilemma they made me the deputy CM.”
Rajiv Gandhi insulted Dalit Andhra CM
During the debate on President’s address to Parliament in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed the infamous meet between the then general secretary of Congress Rajiv Gandhi and then AP chief minister Tantuguri Anjaiah. Reportedly, in 1982, Gandhi, while on a private visit to the Andhra Pradesh’s Begumpet airport, had shouted at Anjaiah. On this, Modi had even slammed the Congress party and said, “Your Prime Minister did not even respect the wishes of a Dalit Chief Minister.”
Amit Shah exposed the hypocrisy of the Congress Party
Taking a jibe at the Congress party, Amit Shah had attacked the party in 2018 and exposed them for their hypocrisy. He had pointed out how Dr BR Ambedkar had been sidelined by Congress Party itself, recounting the story of Congress Party plotting to defeat the maker of the Constitution in his political career and excluding his portrait from the central hall. Moreover, he claimed that the party had failed to honour Dr Ambedkar and the Dalit community by not according him a Bharat Ratna during their reign.
Thus, considering the above instances, it can be assumed that the Congress party, once again, is attempting to use Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit leader, to grab the vote share in the next Punjab Assembly elections. Moreover, the party will soon replace him with Gandhi puppet PCC Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.