The comment of Union minister General VK Singh’s (retired) comparing the burning of Dalit children with a stone being thrown at a stray dog may not work wonders for the National Democratic Alliance, in Bihar.
As the BJP-led coalition is fighting ‘back-to-wall’ elections in Bihar, observers note Singh’s out of context remarks may strengthen the apprehensions of marginalised groups towards NDA in general and BJP in particular.
Shivanand Tiwari, a ex-Rajya Sabha MP said BJP was never known for its love towards Dalits. But of late, the BJP has been luring the Dalits; it is even pampering Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi; not only Manjhi, BJP also worked on Ram Vilas Paswan to win over the Dalits, and allay their apprehensions.
However, Singh’s comments are bound to revive the apprehensions of Dalits, something that the BJP cannot afford at this point. Much will also depend on damage control by the BJP. “It has to act tough against Singh, but that doesn’t look like it’s happening,” said Tiwari.
Writer and Bihar Legislative Council former member Prem Kumar Mani, said, Singh’s analogy hasn’t come as a surprise, more than anything else. “It reflects a mind-set worse than animals.” The fact that Jitan Ram Manjhi demanded action against Singh proves the political implications of the ‘foot in mouth’, he added.
While opposition parties demanded his ouster for his remarks on the death of two Dalit children in Faridabad, “Singh,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, had clarified about the statement. I think we shouldn’t blow it out of proportion.”
Senior BJP leader and likely CM candidate Prem Kumar, an EBC, said, “The elections were being fought on the development issue. The opposition cannot succeed in its plan to deviate voters from BJP.”