Akali Dal bids to woo Dalit voters ahead of Punjab Assembly polls

A Dalit leader will be made Deputy Chief Minister if party wins elections: Badal

In an attempt to gather Dalit votes in the Punjab Assembly polls due early next year, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announced on Wednesday that it would appoint a Dalit as Deputy Chief Minister after forming the government.

The announcement that was made by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal evoked sharp criticism from the Congress, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh calling it “poll optics”.

Mr. Badal made the announcement in Jalandhar, after paying tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his 130th birth anniversary.

He also tweeted, “@Akali_Dal is proud to follow the ideals of Babasaheb Dr BR Ambedkar ji. We are committed to working for the weak & downtrodden. Once SAD forms govt in Punjab in 2022, the Deputy CM will be from Dalit bhaichara. We will also establish a University in Doaba in Babasaheb’s name.” Dalits make up nearly 32% of the total population in Punjab.

Captain Singh said the announced by Mr. Badal was nothing but a political antic aimed at misleading the people.

‘Political gimmickry’

“The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party had failed to ensure the welfare of the Dalits in the State for 10 years and are now resorting to political gimmickry to woo the community with an eye on the 2022 elections,” he said.

“Sukhbir Badal is now promising a Deputy Chief Minister but has nothing to show what he or his party, in alliance with the BJP ever did for the community,” said the Chief Minister.

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