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Was victimised for being a dalit, says expelled JK BJP leader

Jammu, Dec 13: Days after his expulsion from the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit, Gagan Bhagat accused the state party leadership of being “anti-Dalit” and alleged he was victimised for being one.

He claimed that the party’s debacle in the recently concluded assembly elections in five states was a result of its “anti-Dalit” ideology.

Going against the party line, Bhagat had on December 3 moved the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution of state assembly. The apex court, however, dismissed his petition on Monday, saying there was no merit in the pleas filed by the former legislator.

He was expelled by the BJP on the same day with immediate effect for his “continued indiscipline, anti-party and anti-Jammu activities.”

“I am a Dalit and faced victimisation from the party which is 100 per cent anti-Dalit…I was always given the position where my caste fits,” Bhagat told reporters here.           “I have always faced discrimination because of the anti-Dalit attitude of the party leadership. Scheduled Castes gave seven reserved seats to the party in the state but it gave no representation to the community in the previous government. No ministerial berth was given (to community members) nor any higher position in the party,” he alleged.

He added that whenever someone highlights the truth, he is dubbed anti-party.

Earlier in July, Bhagat was suspended by the disciplinary committee of the party over his alleged role in the abduction of an ex-serviceman’s daughter, a charge he and the woman rejected.

He said he is not against the BJP’s national leadership.

Bhagat claimed that the party’s state leadership was dictatorial and it would face a drubbing in the next assembly election as the people had seen its real face.

He alleged that the BJP had done nothing for the Jammu region despite being in power in the state and at the Centre.

“I know everything about the party and its functioning. I know how ministers were chosen when money changed hands. They have filled their coffers and have done nothing for the people, including those living along the International Border, who are direct targets of Pakistan’s shelling,” the doctor-turned-politician said.

Bhagat dared the BJP to announce its chief ministerial candidate ahead of the Assembly elections and said “the party would not do so because it knows its position”.

“It might push for delaying the polls given the mood of the people,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21. The Election Commission has to hold fresh assembly polls in the state within six months, by May 21.

On Article 35A, which guarantees special rights and privileges to permanent residents of the state, Bhagat said the party is toeing the line of national leadership and ignoring potential threat its revocation poses.

He alleged that the withdrawal of his security cover was one of the “pressure tactics” of the BJP to silence him.

On his future plans, Bhagat said he was in touch with all other political parties.

“I am in touch with all the parties…Barring the BJP, every other party is for the unity of Jammu and Kashmir. Even the PDP has done more for Jammu than the BJP,” he said.