Updated: January 21, 2016 3:41:55 pm
As Uttar Pradesh gears up for the 2017 assembly elections, Narendra Modi will pay his first visit to the state capital Lucknow after becoming Prime Minister. The move is politically significant: he will offer floral tributes at the urn of Bhimrao Ambedkar at the Ambedkar Mahasabha office. BSP supremo Mayawati has not visited the Mahasabha office so far even though she claims to be the ‘only leader’ of the Dalits and has erected several life-size statues of Ambedkar at several places in Lucknow and Noida.
The PM will be on UP tour from Friday. He will attend three events in Lucknow and one in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi. Modi will be the chief guest at the sixth convocation of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU). It will be first time in the history of BBAU — a central university — that a sitting PM will attend its convocation.
The PM will visit places associated with Ambedkar at a time when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has told its volunteers across the country to adopt at least one family of the Dalit community and work to bring them into mainstream society. Sources said that Sangh has been trying to contain the damage done by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks suggesting a rethink on the quota system, a major reason for the BJP’s defeat in the Bihar assembly polls. Now they don’t want to take any chances in the 2017 UP polls.
However, the visit comes in the backdrop of the suicide by a Dalit student, Rohith in Hyderabad and criticism that the HRD ministry and BJP minister Bandaru Dattatreya influenced Hyderabad Central University to suspend him from its hostel.
According to sources, PM decided to visit Ambedkar Mahasabha on the recommendation of UP Governor Ram Naik who himself had visited Mahasabha office last year. Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind too had visited the Ambedkar Mahasabha in December. Ambedkar’s urn was placed there by his wife Savita in 1991 and the PM’s visit will be during Ambedkar’s 125 th birth anniversary year.
The political significance of PM’s Lucknow visit could be determined by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav offering to provide 5-acres of land on the city’s outskirts to develop a memorial for Ambedkar. Akhilesh made the offer when Mahasabha president Laljiprasad Nirmal met him last week to invite him to the Friday event. Nirmal claimed the CM offered land for the memorial but had not clarified who will fund the project.
When asked about PM’s visit to Ambedkar Mahasabha campus, BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said that the PM was committed to the upliftment of Dalits, deprived and backwards sections of the society.
Before landing in Lucknow Friday afternoon, Modi will distribute aids and appliances to more than 8,000 disabled people in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi. Officials of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment claim this will be the largest camp in the world for distributing aids to disabled people — the government will also apply for a Guinness World Record. Sources said that 3,216 tricycles, 2,290 hearing aids, 1,734 crutches, 774 wheel chairs, 479 artificial limbs will be distributed in the camp. PM will launch a new and highly advanced train ‘Mahamana Express’ that will run between Varanasi and New Delhi from Friday.
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