As Karnataka Nears Polls, Political Parties Reach Out To Dalits

With the state heading for elections early next year, the parties see a major vote bank in the Dalit community which constitute 35 percent of the state population.

Yeddyurappa on Monday hosted the families of 33 Dalits at his residence in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: BJP Karnataka president BS Yeddyurappa on Monday hosted the families of 33 Dalits at his posh Dollars colony residence in Bengaluru. These are the same families whose homes he recently visited as part of his public outreach programme across the state. 

In May, Mr Yeddyurappa was in news for eating food brought from hotel at Dalit houses during his Jana sampark abhiyan.

With elections just months away, his latest move is seen as an attempt to counter the criticism and reach out to Dalit voters, who constitute 35 percent of the state population. .

"The response that they have given to me when I visited Dalit families and Dalit area is really fantastic. First time after Independence in Karnataka, so much of response I have received from the Dalit families," he said. 

Mr Yeddyurappa, seen as BJP's chief ministerial face, is not the only politician who is trying to reach out to the Dalits. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has launched a number of schemes for the backward communities. The Congress government has already issued free bus passes and laptops for the students from the SC/ST community.

The Congress leader mocked the latest move by Mr Yeddyurappa as an eyewash. "This is all political drama, how did BS Yedyurappa help Dalits when he was the chief minister? How many programmes did he form for them, how many people did he invite home then? How many of them were made ministers in his cabinet," asked Mr Siddaramaiah to back his claim. 

Apart from the BJP and the Congress, Janata Dal (Secular), the other major political player in the state, has also intensified its rural decade-old outreach campaign - 'Grama vasthvyas' - that was launched by its leader, HD Kumaraswamy, when he headed the government. 
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