Editor's note: Elections to the Karnataka Assembly are scheduled for 12 May and they come at a time when caste is a major topic of debate across the country. The following is the final of a five-part series on prominent Dalit activists who have a deep influence on the politics of the state. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the series.
With the Karnataka elections scheduled for 12 May, political parties are running the last lap in highlighting issues which they wish to address in case of victory. One topic that has gained prominence after a recent Supreme Court ruling on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act diluted stringent provisions of the Act — to protect people, including public officials and private individuals from immediate arrest — is safeguarding rights of people belonging to the Dalit community. Violent protests broke out after the Supreme Court ruling on 20 March. Dalit activists in Karnataka feel that the community should exercise caution before casting their ballots and not vote for parties that they see as being against Dalit rights.
Human rights activist and state secretary of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkar Wada), Mavalli Shankar feels that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA is one such example of a party that is against the upliftment of Dalits. “Wherever there is a BJP-government, a lot of atrocities cases can be found registered,” he said.
Calling the Supreme Court decision unacceptable, Shankar thinks the move was politically motivated. Shankar, who has been fighting for more representation for all minority communities in the Parliament, also thinks the Congress will get a majority of Dalit votes in this election. According to him, the Siddaramaiah-led government can be seen as ‘pro-Dalit’ due to various policies like the setting up of schools for backward communities and increasing funds allocated to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
In this interview with Firstpost, Shankar talks about his views on why people should not vote for BJP and how the Siddaramaiah-led government is in favour of the upliftment of all minority communities.
The video was created by Swetha Gowda. The authors are members of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media startup.
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Updated Date: Apr 28, 2018 16:33:29 IST