Punjab: Congress Faces Dalit Anger After Remarks By Senior Party Leader Ravneet Bittu That Akalis Gave Away 'Pious, Panthic' Seats To BSP

Punjab: Congress Faces Dalit Anger After Remarks By Senior Party Leader Ravneet Bittu That Akalis Gave Away 'Pious, Panthic' Seats To BSPtwitter

Senior Congress leader and acting leader of the party in Lok Sabha Ravneet Bittu is facing the ire of Dalit groups in Punjab over his recent remarks criticising Shironmani Akali Das (SAD) for giving away “pious” seats like Anandpur Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib to the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Bittu had last evening posted a video on his Facebook page, commenting on the newly announced SAD-BSP alliance.

Last week, Badal family controlled Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) entered in to formal electoral alliance, six months ahead of assembly elections in the state. The BSP will contest 20 seats, out of 117, leaving the balance 97 to the SAD. Dalits form 32 per cent of the state’s population (the highest in the country), and, because Dalit voting patterns play a decisive role in determining the electoral fortunes of all parties in the fray.

BSP leaders described the comment as 'casteist' and held protests across the state. BSP cadres burnt Bittu’s effigy and demanded his resignation.

The Tribune quoted a BSP worker as saying “How and why can’t a BSP leader contest from a pious seat? Does the MP still consider Dalits or BSP leaders non-pious? Or maybe he considers the rest of the state less pious,”

BSP state chief Jasvir Singh Garhi said: “Bittu has shown that he has not imbibed the lessons taught by the 10th Sikh Guru at the time of formation of Khalsa in Anandpur Sahib. He preached equality. Despite having been elected from Anandpur Sahib earlier, Bittu has now shown that people had wrongly chosen him.”

Bittu said that his earlier statement was “misinterpreted”.

“I only meant to say that the Akali Dal had deserted Panthic seats. I never passed any comment against Dalits. BSP doesn’t imply Dalits as the party has workers from all castes. My political mentor Malkit Singh Dakha is a Dalit,” said Bittu.

A close associate of Rahul Gandhi, Bittu is the grandson of Beant Singh, the former Chief Minister Of Punjab.

Bittu was first elected president of Punjab Youth Congress in 2008. He was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha a year later from Anandpur Sahib and from Ludhiana in 2014. He retained the Ludhiana in 2019.

Bittu was given the temporary charge to lead the Congress party in the Lok Sabha during this year's Budget Session.

Also Read: Punjab 2022: Why SAD Jumped At Chance Of Tie-Up With BSP And What BJP Can Target Now That There's No Alliance Burden