NINETEEN years after BSP chairperson and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati laid the foundation stone of her mentor Kanshi Ram’s memorial in his maternal grandparents’ village, she is barred by the latter’s sister, Swaran Kaur, the caretaker of the memorial, from visiting it.
The imposing memorial-cum-residence, however, is gearing up to receive a special guest — Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal — on March 15, the 82nd birth anniversary of Kanshi Ram. On the same day, Mayawati will address a rally in Nawan Shahar, about 50 km from the village.
With polls in 2017 and Dalits being a force to reckon with in Punjab — their population stands at 32 per cent — the birth anniversary celebrations of Kanshi Ram, the founder of BSP and a Dalit icon, are in focus.
“Mayawati is our enemy number one. She killed my brother by holding him captive during the twilight of his life and not allowing his family members to meet him. My elderly mother too died pining for her son, a year before him. She dare not cross the bridge to this village. She sent us feelers three months ago to bury the hatchet. But we will welcome Kejriwal,” said Kaur, 70.
The fondness for Kejriwal is not without a reason. “He was told about me at the Ravidass Jyanti function in Varanasi on February 22. He came to meet me there and invited me to meet him. I told him about the annual function on Veerji’s anniversary. He told me he would attend the function,” she said.
Kaur, who is also the chairperson of Babu Kanshi Ram Charitable Foundation, said she had no inclination to join AAP. “I will not join any political outfit. It would be an insult to my brother, who sacrificed everything to start a movement for Dalits that took the shape of BSP later. As long as I am alive, I will not join any party. But we will not support the BSP either because it has been hijacked by Mayawati.”
The family, however, is planning to extend support to a political party in Punjab Assembly election, “We will urge people to support a party that will take care of Dalits,” she said.