One of the largest villages in the Bishnah Assembly seat, Laswara village, is observing a competition among political parties to meet the Dalit vote bank as it has a sizeable Dalit population. Situated on the Jammu-Arnia road, it comprises over 4500 votes. Phase 5 of the five phased Assembly Elections is on the 20th and the leaders are counting on the Dalit Vote bank for their win.
Rashpal Bhagat of Laswar said, “This village was considered as a citadel of the BSP. After 2002, the party had failed to consolidate itself. every party is trying to woo the Dalit votes.”
Apart from Laswara, there are many other villages and hamlets in Jammu and Kathua district which are dominated by Dalits. Political parties in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri have strenghtened their campaigns to draw Dalit votes as the electoral battle for the last 20 days is just two days away. In the districts of Kathua and Jammu, which comprises 16 constituencies out of 20 scheduled for the final phase, 25% of the total votes constitutes of Dalit votes. In Billawar, Basohli, Kathua, Hiranagar, Bishnah, RS Pura, Marh, Nagrota, Raipur Domana, Khour, Gandhi Nagar, Akhnoor, Chhamb, Nowshera and Kalakot seats, Dalit votes are the deciding factor.
The Bharatiya Janta Party which needs Dalit votes to bag the maximum number of seats, has assigned its Dalit leaders to convince voters. Dalit leaders have mantled the Dalit dominated pockets like Kathua, Bishnah and RS Pura to conduct door to door campaigns regularly.
Congress too is coming on the stage with its messages in favour of the marginalised and weaker sections of the society. NC is putting all efforts to muster the Dalit vote bank.
While in 1996 the BSP had triumphed in four seats but with the passage of time the party’s base abraded, showing the shrinking Dalit vote bank of the party.