Dimple Yadav, wife of Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will contest the Mainpuri parliamentary seat in a By-Polls to be held on December 5.

The seat has been vacant since the death of SP party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. The 44-year-old Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed in Kannauj in 2012 but lost the Lok Sabha by-election from Firozabad to actor turned politician Raj Babbar, and in 2019 to BJP candidate Subrat Pathak from Kannauj.

After that defeat she said that she would not contest elections. Till Dimple Yadav's name was announced, it was Tej Pratap Yadav who was expected to contest from Mainpuri. Tej is a former parliamentarian and a favourite grandson of the late Mulayam Singh Yadav.

But now it is Dimple who has the responsibility for carrying on the legacy of the SP in Mainpuri that has been a stronghold of the party since 1996.

A Celebrity Visit

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and actor Priyanka Chopra brought a lot of glamour and some joy to Lucknow when she visited the capital of Uttar Pradesh (UP) recently. UP remains one of the most backward states in the country and deserves all the attention celebrities like Chopra bring to it.

Chopra has fond memories of the city as she spent part of her childhood here as a student of the prestigious La Martiniere Girls' College. Her trip included visits to several schools in the outskirts of Lucknow and to the Call Center 1090. This is an emergency telephone power line started by the UP police to deal with complaints of sexual harassment of women.

During her two day visit, Priyanka Chopra met Anganwadi workers who told the actress how they help children and pregnant women to take care of their health. Anganwadi means courtyard, and is the name of rural child care centres flagged off by the government in 1975 to combat child hunger and malnutrition.

Chopra spoke about the grave problem of violence against children and heard youngsters talk to her on mental health issues. She discussed gender equality and the importance of education for young women. As she sat on a floor mat surrounded by youngsters one of the students made a sketch of the actor.

In a video message Chopra said that she has family and friends in Lucknow. That she is keen to understand how the needs of women and children have changed in UP.

"I want to see first-hand how technology and innovations are making a shift. Across India, gender inequality results in unequal opportunities. And it is the girls that are most disadvantaged."

She said, "We are visiting various UNICEF partners to see the work that is being done with the aim to end violence and discrimination against girls. I will hear about the challenges they face in everyday life and see the solutions on hand.

"As I have said often enough, women and girls are the key to building a better future and not just for themselves but for their communities."

However, even as the actor spoke about finding solutions to end violence and discrimination against girls, the state police had rained down lathis on women in another part of the state.

Violence Againt Dalit Women

In Ambedkar Nagar's Jalalpur district, UP policemen beat up Dalit women protesting against those who had tried to grab land around a statue of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Dalit leader Ambedkar is dear to the country as father of the Indian Constitution.

The police has also been accused of hurling caste related abuses at the Dalit protestors. In a video that went viral, men in police uniform are seen mercilessly beating up women protestors.

While statues of Ambedkar adorn different parts of the country, and are installed by the important members of the government, unknown people are known to have defaced the same statutes.

It is still not certain who the anti-social elements are who attack the statues, throw ink on them, insulting the memory of Ambedkar and making life difficult for the state's Dalit population to live in peace in their own home. Dalit residents of the Jalalpur area say that this is a routine act to harass and to intimidate them.

Dalits are victims of endless violence because they are economically and socially backward and feel that there is none to help or to speak for them. Poverty stricken Dalit women are most vulnerable as they face abuse and sexual violence routinely.

Dalit women suffer most in a caste battle as well as in disputes between men over land. Often violence against women and rapes take place for no other benefit except to establish the dominance of men in the milieu they live in.

However, ever since more and more Dalit women have started to speak up, violence against them has only increased. Every time women report cases of abuse against them to the police, they are forced to face further brutality.

And often age is no bar. Women from infants to senior citizens continue to be molested and arm twisted into submission by male bullies. UP has the highest number of cases of violence against women and the highest number of cases of sexual assault against girls.

Along with Bihar and Rajasthan, UP reports more than half cases of atrocities against Dalits. Dalits are 20 percent of UP's population of 200 million people out of which half are women whose life remains at the bottom most step of the economic and social ladder.

Dalit leader and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad immediately tweeted his anger over the Jalalpur incident. But not a word from Dalit leader Mayawati in empathy with the Dalit women of Jalalpur who were beaten up black and blue by the police for trying to honour the memory of Ambedkar.

Silence On EWS

Not a word has been said against the 10 percent reservation approved by the Supreme Court, for education and government jobs to the economically weaker sections of upper caste people, either by socialist politicians, or Dalit leaders.

Neither the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav nor the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati have taken to the streets to protest the injustice to Dalits and other backward castes who are both economically and socially weaker sections of society. I wonder why?