The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit on Thursday said it had issued a defamation notice to expelled leader and former MLA Gagan Bhagat for making “unfounded and abusive allegations” against its top leaders, PTI reported. On Wednesday, Bhagat had accused the saffron party of being anti-Dalit.
A party spokesperson said the notice was issued because of Bhagat’s comments against BJP state president Ravinder Raina and BJP state general secretary Ashok Kaul during media interviews on December 12.
Bhagat had claimed he was victimised for being a Dalit and said the party’s recent defeats in key state elections were because of this ideology, PTI reported.
Bhagat was expelled from the party on December 10, soon after the Supreme Court dismissed his petition challenging Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to dissolve the state Assembly. The state unit of the BJP cited his “continued indiscipline, anti-party and anti-Jammu activities” as reasons for the dismissal.
“I am a Dalit and faced victimisation from the party, which is 100% anti-Dalit,” Bhagat said. “I was always given the position where my caste fits. I have always faced discrimination because of the anti-Dalit attitude of the party leadership. Scheduled Castes gave seven reserved seats to the party in the state but it gave no representation to the community in the previous government. No ministerial berth was given [to community members] nor any higher position in the party.”
Bhagat claimed he is called “anti-party” whenever he “highlights the truth”. He said the state leadership was dictatorial but added that he was not against the BJP national leadership. The former MLA warned that the party will lose the next state Assembly elections.
“I know everything about the party and its functioning,” he said. “I know how ministers were chosen when money changed hands. They have filled their coffers and have done nothing for the people, including those living along the International Border, who are direct targets of Pakistan’s shelling.”
Every party apart from the BJP is for the “unity of Jammu and Kashmir”, Bhagat added. “Even the PDP has done more for Jammu than the BJP.”
On November 21, Malik had dissolved the state Assembly after the Peoples Democratic Party, the National Conference and the Congress proposed to stake claim to form the government. People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone also attempted to stake claim the same day with the support of the BJP.
Malik has denied reports that claimed he was following orders from the Centre. According to him, the Assembly was dissolved because of the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies”.
The state will have to go to the polls before May 21.