07-Sep-2018-SC/ST Act: Upper caste BJP MPs want talks: We cannot leave anyone behind

The Indian Express: September 7, 2018

Five months after Dalit MPs of the BJP raised voices against the Supreme Court’s order that allegedly diluted stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, upper caste MPs of the ruling party want the government to hold discussions on the amended Act which was protested by upper castes in different parts of the country Thursday.

In poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, BJP MP from Sidhi Riti Pathak said she will raise the issue at the party forum for discussion with senior leaders. “Certainly there will be a discussion. BJP is a sensitive political party that has a motto of sabka saath-sabka vikas. We cannot move forward by leaving anyone (behind).”

About the protests Thursday, Pathak said, “You can call it anger or concern which is coming out.” Asked about the possibility of this having an impact on the upcoming election, Pathak said everything has an impact.

Senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said the Act was made to protect SCs/STs from harassment and atrocities. “But there should be concern that others should not be exploited in the execution of the Act,” said Mishra, MP from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh that has a large population of upper castes.

Mishra said that based on the feedback received from his constituency, he could say that “several fake cases” were being lodged. “This is not the question for BJP only. All political parties had tried to take credit for the Act. Since all the parties had passed the bill unanimously, it is a collective responsibility of all the parties to stop misuse of the Act. And if misuse is not stopped, all should sit together to think over it,” he said, adding, “improvement was necessary to maintain social harmony and equality.”

“We should not take it lightly,” Mishra said. He added that he has been praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking feedback on every new scheme and Act and taking measures to rectify if the need arose. “This matter is like that only. But there is a need to involve leaders of all the parties in the discussion,” he said.

BJP MP from Banda in UP, Bhairon Prasad Mishra, said the Opposition parties were misleading the people with “false information” about the Act. “The government as well as the BJP should take measures to check the propaganda of Opposition,” he said. About Thursday’s protest, he said, “In my constituency, I noticed that Opposition leaders who had provoked Dalits for the protest earlier this year were now involved in provoking the upper caste people.”

He denied possibility of any loss of votes for the BJP in the elections because of these protests, but added that it was “true that the Act was misused”.

BJP MP from Valmiki Nagar in Bihar, Satish Chandra Dubey, said there was no resentment against the Act in his constituency. “Only Opposition and the social media are misleading people and making it an issue.There is no resentment or aggression at the ground level,” Dubey said.

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