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Congress to focus on Dalit candidates in UP polls

January 15, 2012 15:07 IST

Keen to better the party's performance in Uttar Pradesh, Congress has decided to give special focus on reserved constituencies as well as the seats from where it has fielded Dalit candidates in the state.

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday had a strategy meeting with party leaders to fine-tune Congress strategy in Dalit dominated constituencies of the state.

P L Puniya, one time close aide of Chief Minister Mayawati and currently a Congress MP from Barabanki in the state and Sirsa (Haryana) MP Ashok Tanwar have been given the 89 constituencies, where Dalits are in the fray.

Of these 85 constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Castes while in four general constituencies, Congress has put up Dalit candidates.

The party has entrusted the responsibility to Puniya, a former bureaucrat, who is now also the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, for obvious reasons.

Being once close to Mayawati, Puniya, will be able to counter the BSP's campaign against Congress in these constituencies.

Tanwar, a former NSUI and Youth Congress President is a young Dalit face from the Rahul Brigade.

The party is expecting a rise in its vote share among the Scheduled Castes after Rahul's visit to Dalit homes, which also invited sharp criticism from the opposition parties specially the BSP, which has been dubbing it as a "gimmick".

Congress has decided to appoint "observers with election experience" in all these 89 constiuencies. "Observers for these constituencies.

"Only one who is either an MLA, ex Minister or ex MLA having previous experience in poll process will be appointed observers in these constituencies," said a party functionary on the condition of anonymity.

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