TARGETING YOUTHS from Dalit and minority communities in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is set to start a campaign in universities and colleges on alleged “suppression on the campus” over three main issues — Hyderabad University Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula’s suicide, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest on sedition charges and restoring AMU’s minority status.
Claiming to have received 200 complaints from universities and colleges in UP on cases of bias and atrocities against Dalit students and teachers, Ajay Kumar Arya — convener of the party’s UP SC/ST department — said the Congress is preparing to start its campaign from Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University in Jaunpur this month. Later, they would cover Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University in Faizabad and Bundelkhand University in Jhansi.
To prepare a strategy for targeting Dalits in UP, K Raju, chairperson of AICC SC/ST department, held a meeting with party office-bearers in Lucknow on Friday. It was decided that the party will hold six divisional-level “Dalit leadership” conventions to be addressed by national leaders in the next few months.
Raju also met state minority department chairperson Siraj Mehndi. Sources said the party is identifying seats in UP that have predominant Muslim and Dalit populations, and the SC and minority departments of the Congress will prepare special campaigns for these seats.
“The minority and SC/ST departments will work in coordination in reaching out to Dalits and Muslims, who are facing bias,” said a leader who was part of the meeting. “The fact remains that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was the first to stand for Rohit Vemula and later for Kanhaiya…. We would assure them that he will stand for them in as well.”
Earlier in the day, Raju participated in a seminar on ‘Ambedkar’s vision and status of Dalit, women and tribes in higher education’ at Lucknow University. Arya said the programme was “purely academic”.