Launching a stinging attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Saturday said that Dalits have “no rights” under BJP rule. She also said that she would convert to Buddhism if Hindu religious leaders failed to abolish caste discrimination.
Addressing a rally in Vadodara after paying homage to Dr B R Ambedkar at Sankalp Bhumi in Sayajibaug on the occasion of the centenary celebration of the pledge he took for the equality of Dalits, Mayawati accused the Prime Minister of indulging “in a lot of nautanki (theatrics)” in the name of Ambedkar, and slammed his party and the RSS for making the lives of Dalits “miserable” in the country.
“The Una case is an example of how Dalits are treated, especially in BJP-ruled states. Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad and the Union government’s silence is another example. They, the BJP, have made lives of Dalits and Dalit Hindus miserable in the name of gau raksha. The BJP and RSS do not allow Dalit leaders to speak on the floor of the House. I understood their ideology and resigned from the Rajya Sabha,” she said.
“The BJP government is trying to reduce reservation for Dalits by design as they are an anti-reservation party.”
She also targeted Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who laid the foundation stone for Ambedkar Smarak near Kamatibaug about two hours before Mayawati’s arrival. “For all these years, BJP has been in power in Gujarat. Modi indulges in a lot of ‘nautanki’ in the name of Ambedkar. But even when he was here, and the BJP government till today did not think of setting up this Ambedkar memorial in Vadodara. The moment they heard I would visit Vadodara, they scampered to the city and performed bhumi puja for the memorial because they knew the impact my visit would have on the Bahujan class here. So, the credit for setting up this memorial in Vadodara goes to the BSP. It goes to me, your behenji,” she told her supporters.
The former CM of Uttar Pradesh said she would “keep a close watch” on whether the memorial is indeed constructed. “If they do not construct it, after I form the next government in Uttar Pradesh, I will ensure this memorial is built in Vadodara. If we form the government in the coming Assembly polls in Gujarat, we will give a fitting reply to the BJP and company,” she said.
Raising the issue of alleged hacking of EVM machines in the UP elections, Mayawati said, “For several years, the BSP worked for equality and uplift of Dalits in UP. But this year, during Assembly elections in UP, the BJP took away power by cheating through EVM machines. It has undone all the good work of the BSP for Dalits. Incidents like Saharanpur riots are an example of the BJP’s governance for Dalits.”
She added, “I want to bring to your notice that the BJP conspired to eliminate me in the disguise of the Saharanpur incident, but I was alert. I have, therefore, pledged to bring the BSP in Gujarat. If BSP comes to power in Gujarat, incidents like Una will never happen. Dalits will get all the respect they deserve.”
Mayawati also accused the Congress of using Dalits as vote banks. She said that both the Congress and BJP insulted Ambedkar during their rule.
“The Congress first opposed Bharat Ratna for Dr Ambedkar. When V P Singh approached the BSP for outside support to his government in 1989, it was our first condition that Babasaheb should be given the Bharat Ratna. The second condition was the implementation of the Mandal Commission report. V P Singh agreed as he wanted to form the government, and Babasaheb was given the Bharat Ratna. But the BJP could not digest this. They went on a rampage in the country and brought down the V P Singh government. This is their real face and the respect they have for Babasaheb,” she said.