Patna: The dilution of the SC/ST Act may force many BJP allies to quit the NDA and join the opposition camp ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year, All India Congress Committee -AICC in-charge of Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil said on Wednesday.
Such a development is most likely in Bihar, where all the NDA constituents — JD(U), LJP and RLSP — primarily draw their support from people belonging to the SC/ST and OBC categories, Gohil told PTI. In a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court on 20 March diluted its stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the law. The Centre has filed a review petition on the order.
“Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi took the decision after a tour of Bihar to enact the law to protect the SC/ST people from various atrocities. Now the law has lost its teeth. This has caused tremendous resentment among the people belonging to these castes, who hold the BJP squarely responsible for their vulnerability,” Gohil said. “While it would not be correct to say that any NDA ally has approached us with a wish to leave the BJP-led alliance, the writing on the wall is there for all to see. Much will happen before the Lok Sabha polls next year,” the senior Congress leader said.
Gohil also dismissed speculations about the Grand Alliance facing problems in arriving at an amicable seat-sharing arrangement. “Our tie-up with the RJD and the HAM is ideological. The alliance is poised to succeed in the upcoming polls and issues like seat sharing will be settled amicably in time,” he said. As of now, the party is conducting surveys in all the Lok Sabha segments of the state and taking feedback from a cross-section of the society, he said.
This, he added, will help identify the seats where the Congress can do better with the support of its allies, as well as those where the RJD or the HAM have a better chance with Congress backing. “This is going to be a mutually beneficial collaboration and there is no possibility of a squabble within the Grand Alliance. We just need to wait for some time as more parties may come on board,” he said.
Speaking about the recent comments by some Congress MLAs who praised Nitish Kumar and favoured his return to the Grand Alliance, Gohil said unlike the BJP, the Congress is a democratic party where each member has the permission to express his personal opinion. As far as alliances are concerned, they are always decided by the party high command, he said.
Gohil said the Congress was working on a long-term plan to strengthen the party in the state. The district units may be in for a major revamp and a full-time state president will be appointed in the not-so-distant future. The party also plans to appoint office bearers at the panchayat level, besides entrusting 27 MLAs and three MLCs with the charge of a district each so that together they are able to voice problems of the entire state, the Congress leader said.