THE UTTAR Pradesh Congress’ scheduled “grand Dalit public meeting” — to be held to mark the end of Dr B R Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations — at a village on the outskirts of Lucknow has now been changed to a convention, which will be organised in a city auditorium. The party has blamed “adverse weather conditions” for the change of plan.
Last week, the state Congress had announced that it would hold a grand programme on April 17 at Itaunja on Lucknow outskirts to mark the occasion. Senior leaders, including Sushil Shinde, P L Punia and K Raju were supposed to address the gathering of Dalit workers from across the state. This, after Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked all states to organise mega events to mark the end of the celebrations.
Now, suddenly, it has been decided that the programme would be held at Gandhi Auditorium in Lucknow.
When contacted, Bhagwati Chaudhary, Chairman of UP Congress SC/ST Department, said: “The programme has been shifted due to adverse weather conditions (rising temperature) and also because the area is far off. It would have been difficult for partymen coming from different parts of the state to locate the area.”
“The programme will take place, the issues will also be the same… its just that the venue has been changed. Sushil Shindeji (senior party leader) will address workers at Gandhi Sabhagar on April 17 along with other leaders,” added Chaudhary.
Sources claimed the plan was changed as Congress does not want its event to be compared with the one held by BSP chief Mayawati at Ambedkar Park in Lucknow on April 14 — Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. The event by Mayawati saw a huge footfall, so much so that the venue bore the look of a mela ground by the end of the day.
“Our main purpose is to address Dalit workers coming from different parts of the state… raise issues with them. This can be done from Gandhi Auditorium as well, where they would be able to listen to the speakers in a much better way,” a Congress leader claimed.
With a year left to the Assembly polls in UP, Congress is targeting non-Jatav Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs — the traditional votebanks of BSP and SP, respectively. Recently, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, while addressing the Dalit conclave in Lucknow, had targeted Mayawati and promised leadership roles to Dalits. The aim of the April 17 event is to convey this message further.lic meet to an auditorium