The rule of Charanjit Singh Channi has started in Punjab. Channi comes from the Dalit community, for the first time in Punjab, a Dalit Chief Minister has been crowned. This is indeed a master stroke of Congress. Dalits are 32 per cent of the population in Punjab. 34 out of 117 seats are reserved. There is also an effect on general seats. The Doaba region is a stronghold. Despite the division of votes, King has been in the role of maker. Congress has become the first party, which made the first Dalit Chief Minister. Even though it is only for 5 and a half months. Since independence, among the 15 chief ministerial faces in Punjab, the Dalit face never got a chance to lead. Although the beginning of Dalit politics started in Punjab in the 80s. Kanshi Ram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party, was from Hoshiarpur district of Punjab. He started his political journey from here. Kanshi Ram worked hard to unite the Dalits in Punjab and also to spread political awareness among them. As a result of this, he got victory in the year 1996. At that time also his party’s alliance was with Shiromani Akali Dal. But in the 1997 elections, the Bahujan Samaj Party could get only 7.5% of the votes, which came down to 1.5% in the 2017 assembly elections.
Political dominance of 25% on 32%
Punjab has the largest Dalit population in the country. Whose number is 32 percent. Yet 25 per cent of Jat Sikhs continue to dominate politics. Why so in a conversation with a private channel, senior journalist Vipin Pabbi, who was present in Mohali, said that this is because the Scheduled Caste population is also divided. He says that where the population is divided between Sikh Dalits and Hindu Dalits, there are many societies among Sikh Hindu Dalits who hold their own different ideologies. Pabbi says, perhaps this is the reason why despite so much hard work, Kanshi Ram could not unite Dalits in Punjab and he moved out of Punjab and started working among Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country. On the other hand, according to Professor Ronki Ram of Panjab University, Kanshi Ram tried to create harmony and alliance among the people of different Dalit society of Punjab but he could not succeed, whereas in Uttar Pradesh his successor Mayawati got unprecedented success in this. The best performance of Bahujan Samaj Party was in 1992 when it got 16 per cent votes, he said. But over time the influence of the party waned and it was reduced to some areas of Doaba region of Punjab.
What is the use of Congress?
Bahujan Samaj Party was strong here till Kanshi Ram remained active in Punjab. They wanted a Dalit to become the CM. Congress has given this message that it has fulfilled the dream of Kanshi Ram. She can redeem it in Uttar Pradesh too. It has overtaken other parties in giving social representation. However, this is also his political compulsion, because Siromani Akali Dal had announced to give Dalit Deputy CM and BJP has also said to give Dalit Chief Minister. The Congress has also taken the risk of angering a large section of Sikhs, which it has tried to make up for by making it a deputy CM. This bet of Congress has shocked all the parties. The BJP was the only party in Punjab which had said that it would give the face of the first Dalit CM. She missed. He did not put forward the name, while he is preparing to contest all the seats alone this time. The Akali Dal has promised to make an alliance with the BSP and make it the Deputy CM. This trick of Congress has trapped him too. Now she will have to use more pieces to get what she wanted to get. The eyes of the Aam Aadmi Party were also on this vote bank. In the last election, it had won 9 reserved seats. She has already announced a Dalit face for the Chief Minister. In such a situation, now he is left with limited options to woo Dalit voters.
First Dalit CM of the country?
Bhola Paswan, who took charge of the power of Bihar, was the first Dalit Chief Minister in the country. He took the reins of power as Chief Minister not once but thrice. After Bhola Paswan, Bihar got a Dalit Chief Minister in the form of Ram Sundar Das during the rule of Janata Dal. At the same time, Kanshi Ram made such a political experiment of Dalit politics that BSP made a strong knock in Uttar Pradesh and Mayawati took over the chief minister’s chair not once or twice but four times. As a Dalit CM in UP, Mayawati became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1995 with the support of the BJP, and then for a long time, she had a monopoly rule on the Dalit votes in the state. In Maharashtra, Congress gave a Dalit chief minister in the form of Sushilkumar Shinde, while in Rajasthan in 1980, Congress gave a Dalit chief minister in the form of Jagannath Pahariya. Apart from this, in Tamil Nadu, K. Congress made Kamaraj the Chief Minister thrice. Jitan Ram Manjhi had stepped down as the Chief Minister of Bihar in 2015. Since then, no Dalit has become the Chief Minister in any state of the country. In such a situation, in the midst of the political tussle in Punjab, the Congress has figured out this formula to give a new social equation to its politics.