A race is on among the political parties and social organisations to claim Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar as their own, especially at a time when the Assembly elections are scheduled in three politically important states of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh over next two years.
Right from the BSP, which had positioned its politics on Dalits and other backward castes but has found itself sidelined after the rout in Lok Sabha polls, to Congress, BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), all have lined up functions and programmes to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of the visionary leader on April 14.
K Raju, chairman of AICC SC department, has sent a letter to the PCC chiefs asking each state committee to launch year-long celebrations to mark Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. The letter also says, in bold letters, that all state presidents are requested to celebrate it “without fail”.
“Congress is the original well-wisher of the schedule castes. In past few years, parties such as BSP misled them and took them away from us. We will go out and tell them about the steps taken by the UPA for their upliftment. We will also expose the claims of BJP,” said Bhagwati Chaudhary, chairman of UP Congress SC department.
With an eye on the 2017 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron party wants to spread the message of caste-less and class-less society. “The negative mindset of BSP has been exposed to schedule caste people. Now, we will mark Ambedkar’s birth anniversary by spreading the message of caste-less and class-less society. There might be some celebrations at Madho Sabhagar in Lucknow but they are yet to be given a final shape,” said Gautam Chaudhary, head of BJP’s Scheduled Caste wing.
Though not a political outfit, RSS, the ideological parent of BJP, will launch collectors’ editions of its mouthpieces, The Organiser and Panchjanya, with Ambedkar’s writings as well as those written on him as “a tribute to the nationalist leader”. RSS has also announced college-level speech competition on “Ambedkar Jeevan Darshan”, which will conclude on April 17 with cash rewards of of Rs 5,100, Rs 2,100 and Rs 1,100 for the first, second and third place winners, respectively.
“We are organising various programmes. Besides the college level competition on Ambedkar, we are coming out with special editions of Organiser and Panchjanya,” said Prabhu Narayan Srivastava, Awadh Prant Sangh Chalak. Srivastava said Governor Ram Naik will launch the special edition of The Organiser in Lucknow on April 23.
While the ruling party in UP has not issued any specific instructions to celebrate Ambedkar’s birth-anniversary, the state government has released Rs 35,000 to each district. The districts have been asked to utilise it to celebrate Ambedkar’s birth anniversary and ensure that they also send the utilisation details as soon as possible.
“Ambedkar and Lohia were always together. Both spoke for the upliftment of those who have been neglected by the society. Leaders will pay tribute to Ambedkar at their own level, wherever possible,” cabinet minister and party spokesperson, Rajendra Chaudhary said.
The Mayawati-led party said its workers will celebrate the day in each and every village.”We are happy that everyone has awakened to give respect to Ambedkar but people know that it is a temporary thing being done with elections being the target. We will celebrate it with a big rally in Lucknow, which will be addressed by party chief Mayawati. The target of bringing at least three buses full of supporters from each Assembly constituency has been given,” said Ram Achal Rajbhar, BSP state president.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, has invited RSS general secretary Krishna Gopal to address a seminar titled “Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar: Vyaktitva evam krititva” being organised on the campus on the occasion of the leader’s 125th birth anniversary on April 14. Vice-Chancellor Prof Girish Chandra Tripathi will preside over the event.
While on the invitation card, no designation or profile of Krishna Gopal has been mentioned after his name, seminar organising secretary Prof Lal Chandra Prasad confirmed that he is a senior RSS officer bearer who is working as coordinator between RSS and BJP. Prasad is also chairman of university’s SC/ST Cell.