Competing with the BJP to claim B R Ambedkar’s legacy with an eye on Dalit votes, the Congress on Tuesday said Ambedkar will always remain revered and remembered as a Congressman. It also accused the BJP of trying to “usurp” his legacy for “vote-bank politics”.
A slew of Congress leaders on Tuesday targeted the BJP on the occasion of Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairman P L Punia, a former Congress MP, claimed that the BJP government has slashed by half the fund allocation for several schemes meant for the Dalits. “It is as if it has some enmity (towards these communities),” he said.
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said the BJP and the RSS are in a race to celebrate the Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Arguing that they have remembered Ambedkar after a long while, he asked “whether the RSS, which does not hoist the national flag at its headquarters will put up photos of Ambedkar in their offices and worship his photo. BJP, which never put up Ambedkar’s photo in its office, is also moving around with his posters,” he said at a function at mark the Dalit icon’s birth anniversary.
Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said Ambedkar advocated land reforms and fought the cases of those whose land was snatched whereas “this government (NDA) is snatching the land of farmers”.
Senior Congress leader P C Chacko said: “No political party, especially the BJP, can usurp the legacy of Ambedkar. He will always be remembered as a Congressman and his visions of social inclusion will always remain the motto of the Congress.” The party’s general secretary Digvijaya Singh said several parties want to fit in the personality of Ambedkar into their ideology.