As soon as the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh decided to introduce B R Ambedkar’s middle name ‘Ramji’ in official correspondence and records, opposition parties targeted the BJP dispensation, accusing them of playing vote-bank politics ahead of the 2019 elections.
A fuming Samajwadi Party was loudest alleging that the UP government is playing petty politics to woo the Dalit electorate ahead of next year’s crucial elections. SP leader Anurag Bhadoria was quoted as saying by news agency PTI, “The BJP government is playing politics with the name of the Dalit icon.”
SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav, who was in Mainpuri, also left no chance to lambast the Yogi Adityanath government, saying that instead of changing the Dalit icon’s name, it is important to follow the path he showed.
“A change has been made in the name of Bhim Rao Ambedkar … whosoever has the right to vote knows his name… It is essential today, when he is being remembered and a new name is being affixed with his name, to follow the path shown by him,” he was quoted as saying by PTI, adding every child knows Ambedkar’s name. While referring to Yogi Adityanath’s speech in the Vidhan Parishad on Wednesday, he said the UP chief minister’s remarks were against socialism, a principle that is very close to Constitution.
BSP Chief Mayawati also mocked the UP government’s decision, saying this step is just for “raking fake & cheap kind of popularity”. While referring to the recent incidents of violence against Dalits in the country, and particularly the Supreme Court’s order diluting provisions of the SC/ST Act, she said that Babasaheb’s followers are being inflicted with atrocities.
Congress also digged into the controversy, with the party spokesman Surendra Rajput saying that BJP only follows names and not the work done by big personalities. The Congress spokesman said, “Ambedkar cannot be eulogised by weakening the Constitution.”
Even as the opposition party leaders reacted over the issue, BJP MP from North West Delhi Udit Raj also expressed his objection, saying it has led to unnecessary controversy. He is likely to approach the Chief Minister on the same. “It is surprising that there was no demand for that, but it has been done,” Raj said. He also added that Dalits were reacting to the government’s move.
Senior JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak also took strong exception to the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh introducing Ambedkar’s middle name in all official references to him, saying the exercise smacked of “mischief”.
However, in defence of the state government’s move, UP cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya said there was no politics in the decision. He said that no ulterior motive should be seen in the order issued by Principal Secretary (Admin) Jitendra Kumar. Senior BJP minister and spokesman of the UP government, Sidharth Nath Singh also tried to blunt the opposition attack, asserting that the BJP government has only tried to make sure that the name of Baba Saheb is written correctly.