CHANDIGARH, Punjab—On the day of ‘Dalit Insaf Yatra’ planned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Doaba region of Punjab, its prominent Dalit leader from the same region and former Chairman of Punjab Gau Sewa Commission, Kimti Bhagat, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today at its office here.
Before joining the SAD (B) which snapped ties with the saffron party around a month over farm laws, Bhagat was a BJP working committee member. Bhagat has a huge following amongst the Bhagat community, particularly in the Jalandhar West constituency which was contested by the BJP under the SAD-BJP alliance.
The SAD (B) president Sukhbir Badal got him into the party fold stating that his joining will give a major boost to the party in the Doaba region and strengthen it. “We will give due honour and recognition to Mr Bhagat,” he announced on the occasion.
Talking to newsmen on the occasion, Bhagat said he had got disillusioned by the BJP when he realized that it was not only paying lip service to the problems of the Dalits and did not have any programme for their amelioration. He said he was also dejected by the lack of democracy in the BJP and had lately been shocked at the manner in which it had betrayed the farmers of Punjab by passing the three Agricultural marketing laws.
Bhagat said, “The entire Bhagat community was beholden to former chief minister Parkash Badal who passed several laws to protect ‘gau mata’ besides establishing cattle pounds. I am joining the SAD (B) in keeping with sentiments of the Bhagat community”.
Notably, the Punjab unit of the BJP under the leadership of state president Ashwani Sharma and former union MoS Vijay Sampla had planned to take out a ‘Dalit Insaf Yatra’ from Jalandhar to residence of Punjab Chief Minister at Chandigarh in protest against the alleged atrocities on the scheduled caste community and post-matric SC scholarship scam in the state. However, they were detained by the police just at the start of their yatra. The yatra was not allowed to begin in view of the ongoing farmers’ protests across the state.
After the BJP-led central government of India enacted the anti-farmer laws, its base in the state is getting eroded as its prominent leaders are leaving it. Around a week ago, its state general secretary and Malwa incharge Malwinder Singh Kang quitted in protest against anti-farmer laws. On the other hand, its erstwhile ally is also making efforts to dent it by attracting its leaders.