BSP chief Mayawati is slated to address a rally in Vadodara on September 23, the centenary of the day Dr BR Ambedkar is said to have resolved to change the way Dalits were treated in India after he had to leave the city because he could not find a place to live due to discrimination.
“BSP is holding the rally to mark the completion of 100 years of Mahasankalp Diwas on September 23. This was the day Babasaheb decided to leave his job in Vadodara because of constant discrimination and insults. The party will organise the rally at Naulakhi Maidan and it will be attended by all followers of Babasaheb,” state BSP president Ram Achal Rajbhar, who is in Gujarat to prepare for the event and upcoming Assembly elections, told The Indian Express on phone.
Over the last few years, Mayawati has avoided taking part in such programmes outside of Uttar Pradesh, with her party’s celebrations on Ambedkar’s birth and death anniversaries largely remaining limited to his memorial in Lucknow. Hence, the rally is being seen by political rivals as the BSP chief’s attempt to show her party’s association with Ambedkar’s ideology at a time when she is “struggling” to keep her Dalit support base intact.
Last year, Mayawati had travelled to Ahmedabad to visit the Dalit youths who were beaten up by alleged ‘gau rakshaks’ for allegedly skinning a dead cow in Una. The party is planning to contest most of the seats in the state.
Gujarat’s BSP president Ashok Chavda said the rally will be attended by BSP supporters and a few other followers of Babasaheb. He said the party has not sent any invitations to victims of the Una flogging incident, but added that they were welcome to come as Mayawati has “raised their voice”.
Though the rally has been planned as the launch of BSP’s campaign for the Assembly elections in Gujarat, it also comes at a time when Mayawati’s detractors have been accusing her of abandoning the ideologies of Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram that focused on Dalits and Backwards.
Last month, as many as 16 former BSP leaders had announced the formation of a ‘National Bahujan Alliance’ of their political outfits. They have also announced that they will observe ‘Poona Pact Day’ on September 24 in Pune to recall how the pact had “hurt the upliftment of Dalits”. The Poona Pact was signed on September 24, 1932, by Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, leading to exclusion of the provision of separate electorates for Dalits (referred to as untouchables at that time).
“For 15 years, she did not observe any of these anniversaries. Now that she has lost ground, she will remember all these events and people. But not much can be done once someone loses credibility,” said Pramod Kureel, former BSP MP, who is one of the leaders taking part in the Poona Pact rally.