BJP ally Apna Dal appoints Dalit as state chief in UP

A BJP ally in Uttar Pradesh, has played the Dalit card by appointing Jamuna Prasad Saroj as the party’s first Dalit state president.

Lucknow, March 9 (IANS) In a shrewd political move, the Kurmi-centric Apna Dal, a BJP ally in Uttar Pradesh, has played the Dalit card by appointing Jamuna Prasad Saroj as the party’s first Dalit state president.

Saroj has replaced Rajendra Prasad Pal, an OBC, who has been elevated and made party’s national general secretary.

Saroj, MLA from Soraon reserved seat in Prayagraj, belongs to the Pasi community, the second largest group after the Jatavs among the Dalits.

Saroj’s appointment comes days after BJP’s estranged ally, Om Prakash Rajbhar, founder of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), entered into a political alliance with Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad.

The elevation of 52-year-old Saroj, a postgraduate from Kanpur University, is seen as Apna Dal’s bid to consolidate its position among the Pasis, who account for 16 per cent of the Dalit population in the state. Jatavs account for around 57 per cent of the total Dalit population.

Apna Dal (S) spokesperson Rajesh Patel said party chief Anupriya Patel decided to elevate the two leaders to key higher positions after taking their qualities into consideration.

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