Raipur: Months ahead of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Satnami sect guru Baldas Saheb and his son Khuswant Das, who have a considerable following among Scheduled Caste population, on Tuesday joined the BJP claiming the ruling Congress had insulted their community.
Notably, Guru Baldas and Khushwant Das had joined the Congress ahead of the assembly polls in 2018.
Baldas told reporters that like others they have also claimed candidature for the upcoming polls and that he has sought a ticket for his son Khushwant Das from the Arang assembly seat.
Notably, a majority of the Scheduled Caste population in Chhattisgarh follows the Satnami sect, founded by Baba Guru Ghasidas. Satnamis is considered a major vote bank for political parties as SCs make up about 13 % of the state’s population. They are largely settled in the plains.
“Baldas Saheb and his son, along with thousands of supporters, joined the BJP in the presence of party’s state in-charge Om Mathur, state BJP chief Arun Sao, former chief minister Raman Singh and other senior party leaders,” a party statement said.
Talking to reporters, Baldas said he had joined Congress in 2018 for the upliftment of his community but the ruling party neglected and insulted them.
“We had thought that Congress would work towards the upliftment of our society, development of our religious places and creating livelihood and employment opportunities. But in the last five years, our society was completely neglected and disrespected,” he claimed.
(Chief Minister) Bhupesh Baghel does not talk about the development of the Satnami sect. Now it will be our role to form the BJP government in the state, Baldas added.
When asked if he is seeking to contest upcoming polls, Baldas said, “Like others, we have also claimed for candidature. I have sought a ticket for my son Khushwant from the Arang assembly seat (reserved for candidates belonging to the SC category). But I will abide by the decision of the party (BJP)”.
According to political experts, the entry of Baldas into the BJP fold is politically significant as he wields considerable influence among the SC population.
The SC community, earlier considered as the vote bank of Congress in Chhattisgarh, shifted largely towards BJP in the 2013 assembly elections, when BJP bagged 9 out of 10 SC seats and the Congress just one.
However, in the 2018 assembly polls, the Congress put up a spectacular performance by winning 68 of the total 90 seats in Chhattisgarh including seven out of 10 assembly segments reserved for SC candidates. Of the rest three seats, the BJP bagged two and BSP one.
Chhattisgarh’s Public Health Engineering Minister Guru Rudra Kumar also hails from the Guru family of Satnami sect.
The elections in the state are due later this year. The Election Commission is likely to visit Chhattisgarh for two days beginning August 24.