IN an attempt to reach out to the Dalit communities in election-bound Uttar Pradesh, BJP president Amit Shah on Friday lashed out at all political opponents —- the Congress, BSP and the Samajwadi Party – for “exploiting” the community for narrow political ends, and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading a “government of Dalits, the deprived, backwards and the poor”.
Shah did not mention the ongoing family feud in the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state.
The gathering at BJP’s ‘Manavta Sadbhavna Samaroh’ at Kanshi Ram Smriti Upvan in Lucknow had a largely Dalit crowd – the first time Shah addressed the community in UP after the assault on several Dalit youths in Una, Gujarat, by self-proclaimed cow vigilantes, besides attacks on Dalit communities dealing in cattle carcasses by such ‘gau rakshaks’. BSP chief Mayawati has cited the Una incident in her recent rallies to accuse the BJP of being “anti-Dalit”.
Pointing out that although Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi claims the Congress is a “messiah of Dalits”, and Mayawati has also made “tall claims” of representing the community, Shah said, “Rahulji is projecting himself as the messiah of Dalits. His ‘nana’ (Jawaharlal Nehru) did not allow (B R) Ambedkar to go to Parliament … Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati have exploited Dalits for their own political interests whenever they have got an opportunity.”
He said that while other parties are making tall claims, “governments under the BJP have developed places linked to the life of Babasaheb”.
He cited construction of memorials at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh (Ambedkar’s birthplace), his Samadhi Sthal in Mumbai, his residences in Delhi and London, the Sankalp Bhoomi in Vadodara (Gujarat), and Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur (Maharashtra). He said the government is spending Rs 100 crore on developing a place of study for Dalit students at Ambedkar’s Delhi residence (26, Alipur Road) and Rs 1,200 crore on his Samadhi Sthal in Mumbai.
Shah also pointed out that the Vajpayee government had installed the oil painting of Ambedkar in Parliament, and added that the V P Singh government supported by the BJP (among other parties) conferred the Bharat Ratna on Ambedkar.
He said Prime Minister Modi had also released a coin and a stamp on the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, and held a one-day discussion in Parliament on the leader.
He termed BSP and SP “two walking sticks of the Manmohan Singh government” and claimed that Modi has “given the Dalit youths the right to enter banks by providing loans to 3 crore youths under MUDRA scheme”, and 60 per cent of 12 lakh cooking gas connection under the Ujjwala scheme were given to “Dalit mothers and sisters”.
He claimed that the SP government commits atrocities on Dalits, and Mayawati cannot remove this government.
The programme was organised by former BSP MP Jugul Kishore and other former party leaders who have joined the BJP over the last few years.
The function was organised as a protest against UP minister Azam Khan, who had recently made a controversial remark about Ambedkar.
Without naming Ambedkar, Khan had earlier this month said in Ghaziabad, “The statue (of Ambedkar) pointing its finger into the distance seems to say not only the plot of land on which it stands, but also the one towards which it points its finger is owned by it.”
Watch what else is making news
Kishore, a Dalit leader, said Azam Khan should be immediately sacked as a minister since with this statement he has disrespected the architect of the Constitution after taking oath on that same Constitution.
Meanwhile, BSP president Mayawati termed Shah’s programme in the state capital as a complete “flop”, saying BJP has “wrong intentions”, and only wanted to make “political and electoral mileage” out of Azam Khan’s statement against Ambedkar.
In a statement issued here, Mayawati said she was the first one to condemn Khan’s statement, and had asked him to tender public apology for the same. Khan’s statement was made at the instigation of the UP chief minister, she alleged.