Updated: June 13, 2021 8:56:42 am
At the village Pirthipur in Punjab’s Rupnagar, 76-year old Swaran Kaur was taking care of a temple built in their house’s premises in the memory of her brother, the stalwart Dalit leader Kanshi Ram, when the news trickled in that the party he had founded – the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) —- has entered into an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for the next year’s Assembly polls in Punjab.
As the two parties joined hands after a gap of nearly 25 years, Kaur was firm on her stand against BSP chief Mayawati. “Neither Mayawati, not Badals know anything about poor. They are miles away from what it means to be poor, to understand what poor go through… It is an alliance of the parties currently ruled by the crorepatis. Not even crorepatis, they are arabpatis. What do they know about the sufferings of the poor for whom my brother fought for his entire life,” said Swaran Kaur, speaking to The Indian Express.
Clarifying that she won’t be contesting polls either on BSP or SAD ticket if offered, Kaur said, “I won’t be contesting polls even from any other party because I cant go against BSP. This party is not the personal property of Mayawati. My brother made BSP for the poor and currently it stands hijacked by Mayawati. My veerji’s hard work and sacrifices have gone into making what BSP was,” said Kaur.
“Whenever my mother used to tell veerji to get married, he would tell her to give her one son for serving the society,” said Kaur, adding that politicians cutting across party lines ‘visit the temple built in his brother’s memory’ and pay tributes to him for what he did for the Dalits. “I am trying to keep his legacy alive without getting into politics,” she said.
During 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Dalit group Bhim Army led by Chandrashekhar Azad had urged Mayawati to give BSP ticket to Kaur or that the latter should contest independently from any seat with their support. Kaur had also attended Bhim Army’s rally on Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary at Jantar Mantar in Delhi that year where Azad had announced to contest against PM Narendra Modi. Later, however, Kaur clarified that she had attended the rally only because Bhim Army respected his late brother.
In 2016, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had visited Pirthipur on Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary and demanded ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian honor in the country for him. He had visited Kaur’s residence and garlanded the statue. However, Kaur had then termed Kejriwal as her ‘special guest’.
“My brother used to sleep on floor whenever required and would always stand with the poor. People like Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mayawati don’t let poor come near them. Mayawati uses tag of ‘Dalit’s daughter’ as per her convenience and has become a crorepati whereas poor from Dalit community still struggle for two meals a day. What has she done for them?,” asked Kaur.
“Has she (Mayawati) ever visited the house of any poor or gone to villages to listen to problems of the poor? This alliance is of and for the rich and has been done just to save sinking ships of both parties and for their mutual benefit. No Dalit or poor is going to get any benefit from this alliance because the motive here is power, not welfare,” said Kaur, who accuses Mayawati of separating Kanshi Ram from his family and not allowing them to meet him even in his last days. “She just wanted power and that hunger made her throw out my brother and other loyal BSP workers like him,” she said. “Our anger is not against BSP but the incapable and insensitive leader running it now.”
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