Mallikarjun Kharge meets Dalit engineer, slams BJP for fielding MLA accused of assaulting him

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge at Tijara.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, accompanied by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, met a Dalit engineer, who was allegedly assaulted by a party MLA in 2022, at Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital in Jaipur on November 18. Mr. Kharge slammed the BJP for fielding the MLA, Girraj Malinga, who has since defected to the Opposition party, from his Bari seat in the upcoming Assembly election.

Harshadhipati Valmiki, 28, an engineer in the Energy Department, has been undergoing treatment at the hospital after he was allegedly beaten by Mr. Malinga and his associates with casteist slurs in his office on March 28, 2022. Mr. Malinga was angry with the engineer because of his visit to a Rajput-dominated village in his (Mr. Malinga’s) constituency in Dholpur district to enquire about non-payment of electricity bills by a large number of people.

Also read: In Rajasthan, a manifesto from the people and for the people

Mr. Valmiki sustained multiple fracture injuries, including a broken femur, in the attack. A case in connection with the incident was registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, after which the police arrested several of the accused persons. Mr. Malinga surrendered on May 11, 2022, and was sent by a court in Dholpur to judicial custody. The Rajasthan High Court later granted him bail.

After the ruling Congress denied a ticket to the three-time MLA, Mr. Malinga joined the BJP on November 5 and was fielded as its candidate from Bari late in evening on the same day. He accused the Congress of harassing him and said he had not received any support from the party or the State government in the “false and politically motivated” case registered against him.

Mr. Kharge said after visiting the bedridden engineer that the BJP had betrayed its “anti-Dalit mindset” by giving a ticket to Mr. Malinga. “The decision to field such a person as a candidate is shameful. I condemn it. We had denied ticket to him because of his criminal act,” he said.

The Congress president later said at an election rally at Weir in Bharatpur district that it was most unfortunate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claimed to be the ‘messiah of Dalits’, had given a ticket to Mr. Malinga.

“We did not give him a ticket because he thrashed a man so much that he was on the verge of dying. It is not acceptable to make such a person our candidate even if we lose [a seat],” Mr. Kharge said, adding that the BJP on the one hand talked about poor Dalits, but it extended a jubilant welcome to the accused MLA on the other.

Mr. Kharge also said Mr. Modi could try as much as he wanted, but the Congress would retain its government in the State. He said the Modi government had kept Schedule Castes, tribals, and Other Backward Classes away from public sector jobs. Though there were 30 lakh jobs in the public sector, the government had appointed less than 1 lakh people to the posts, he added.

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