RSS-affiliated Dalit group Bharatiya Bauddha Sangh is all set to begin a four-month outreach rally in poll-bound Gujarat with an aim to “clear the misconception” that the saffron group and BJP are against the community, said its national president Bhante Sanghpriya Rahul on Monday. Rahul had led a similar Dalit outreach rally in Uttar Pradesh in September last year ahead of the elections that saw BJP clinching a thumping majority in the state Assembly.
He added that the rally would be flagged off on June 30 by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in presence of his deputy Nitin Patel and Union Minister Parshottam Rupala. “Several BJP leaders, RSS workers, VHP and Bajrang Dal members will participate to clear the air about the ruling party’s anti-Dalit image,” Rahul said. Flanked by the members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal in Vadodara, Rahul added, “There are many hate-mongers who do not agree to the BJP’s policies and have been trying to malign the image of the party and RSS by spreading rumours about atrocities on Dalits.
Incidents like Una in Gujarat have damaged the image of the BJP. In reality, there is no bigger supporter of the Dalit community than the RSS and the BJP.” Rahul, however, added the rally did not have any political motive. “It is purely coincidental that we are taking out the rally in a poll-bound state. We will conduct these rallies in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. We are not advocating support for the BJP but our aim is to stop the Dalit community from being misled by Christian and Islamic forces. Buddhism and Hinduism are two religions that are born in India and Dalits can choose to follow any.”
Rahul said that the rally — Dalit Rath Yatra — would start from Ahmedabad and proceed to Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, etc. in July before heading towards central Gujarat in August. “It will then head south in September and conclude in Somnath on October 30. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe are likely to attend the concluding ceremony.” Rahul added he had met NDA’s presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind, seeking his support in inviting heads of other countries that followed Buddhism.
“Kovindji has a deep understanding of Buddhism and he has supported our rally.” He added that the aim of the rally is to bridge the gap between the communities. “The rally is focused on reaching out to communities where the practice of untouchability is still prevalent. We have listed villages where the divide between Dalits and upper caste communities is glaring. While visiting the villages we will invite their leaders to join us in bringing people together.”