While the Opposition is targeting the BJP over changes in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and reports of damage to statues of B R Ambedkar in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling party has decided to take out an “Ambedkar Mission Padyatra” in all districts of the state on April 13, the eve of the Dalit icon’s birth anniversary.
On April 14, BJP leaders will visit Dalit-dominated areas to hold meetings and clean and garland Ambedkar statues.
During his Lucknow tour for organisational meetings on Wednesday, BJP president Amit Shah visited Samata Mulak Chowk with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and paid tribute at the statue of Dalit icon Jyotiba Phule on his birth anniversary. This was the first time a senior BJP leader visited the chowk, after the Mayawati regime developed it and installed the statue.
The BJP has also planned a rally of Dalits at Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan in Lucknow next month, which senior office-bearers will address.
Such moves appear to be aimed to woo Dalits, who had voted for the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but moved to the SP-BSP alliance in the recent Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections. For the upcoming programmes, the party has coined the slogans “Baba Sahab ka mission adhura, BJP kar rahi hai pura” (BJP is executing the incomplete mission of Baba Sahab Ambedkar) and “Hum BJP ke, BJP hamari hai”.
In past elections, BSP workers had used the slogan “Baba tera mission adhura, hum sab milkar karenge pura”.
“But the BSP did nothing to complete the mission of Baba Sahab, and only chanted Jai Bhim. Only the BJP government is working to achieve the goal of Ambedkar’s mission. We will tell the masses what the BJP-led governments in the Centre and UP are doing for Dalits and deprived sections of society,” said Kaushal Kishore, BJP MP and UP president of the party’s Scheduled Castes Morcha.
Kishore said that on April 14, Samajik Samrasta programmes will be organised across the state. At these, the party will tell masses about government welfare schemes for Dalits and deprived sections. “Adityanath will also be felicitated as Dalit Mitra (friend of Dalits),” Kishore said.
While Ambedkar Mahasabha, a prominent Dalit organisation in the state, has announced felicitation of Adityanath as Dalit Mitra, sources said the Mahasabha was doing it on the BJP’s request. Ambedkar Mahasabha president Lalji Nirmal, however, said their programme has no connection with the BJP.
The Adityanath government recently decided to change the name of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar to “Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar” in government and court records. It also ordered that a photograph of Ambedkar be put up in every government office.
“Eyeing 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP may field two Dalit candidates in ongoing elections of UP legislative council, and give representation to the community in its booth-level organisation,” said a senior party leader.