In A bid to attract voters from the backward castes, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of social reformer and poet Savitribai Phule, the first Indian woman teacher who pioneered the movement to provide education to girls and worked to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of disenfranchised citizens based on religion, caste, and race.
The BJP leaders garlanded her statue and distributed sweets in Agra on Saturday to mark the occasion and took pledge to help with the education of Dalits and other backward castes. The celebration will continue till Monday when the party will hold a public meeting at Nainana Brahman village in Agra highlighting her achievements.
Interestingly, on Saturday, BSP chief Mayawati had accused the Narendra Modi-led central government of keeping a “casteist mindset” in awarding Bharat Ratna to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter late Madan Mohan Malviya (both Brahmin). She had termed the move “a discrimination against Dalit icons like Kanshi Ram (founder of BSP) and social reformer Jyotiba Phule.
On Sunday, while announcing that the BJP will celebrate Savitribai Phule’s birth anniversary “for the first time”, BJP’s Agra general secretary Premchand Kushwaha said: “The celebration is aimed to give a message among the backward castes that the BJP is concerned about them, whereas the SP and the BSP are only misguiding them.”
Kushwaha added that BJP leaders will highlight the contributions of Savitribai Phule and her husband Jyotirao Phule in the upliftment of Dalits and backwards by promoting education for them. It may be mentioned that BSP claims Jyotirao as its ideologue and during previous Mayawati government in the state, a statue of Jyotirao was unveiled in Lucknow.
Among other things, the party will tell the gathering that the statue of Jyotirao Phule was placed in the Parliament during the regime of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had earlier put up the statues of Jyotirao and Savitribai in Maharashtra, Kushwaha said.
Union Minister of State for Human Resource and Development and MP from Agra, Ram Shanker Katheria, a Dalit, would be the chief guest at the public meeting. Fatehpur Sikri MP Chaudhary Babulal, Sambhal MP Satyapal Saini, Phulpur MP Keshav Maurya, Salempur MP Ravindra Kushwaha (all from backward castes) will also address the gathering along with Agra South MLA Yogendra Upadhyay and Agra North MLA Jagan Prasad Garg.
BJP president of Agra mahanagar, Nagendra Dubey, and of Agra district, Ashok Rana, will jointly preside over the event.
BJP’s backward caste leaders from entire Braj region, which includes 11 districts, have been invited to attend the programme. Sources inform that the targeted gathering will also include members from the backward castes, especially Kushwaha, Lodhi and Kashyap.
Kushwaha also said that the Nainana Brahman village is dominated by Brahmins but it has a sizable population of backward castes. He said the village has been chosen also to highlight problems faced by the locals due to different restrictions imposed in the area by officials of Central Ordnance Depot of Ministry of Defence.
BJP leaders will also organise membership camp in the public meeting with a target to rope in at least 5,000 new members in the party.
The BJP had recently held a public meeting and membership camp in Amroha to celebrate the birth anniversary of former Chaudhary Charan Singh with an objective to attract Jat voters.