Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday launched a counter-attack on Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress party is responsible if Dalits are still facing atrocities even after 70 years of independence. Countering Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s charge of rising incidents of anti-Dalit attacks under the present BJP regime, the LJP chief said the Narendra Modi government has strengthened the legal framework to prevent atrocities against SCs and STs.
The Centre will not hesitate to bring an ordinance if its review petition against the Supreme Court diluting the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act fails, he added. “If even after 70 years of independence, Dalits are stopped from riding horses and Ambedkar’s statues are vandalised, then who is responsible? Is 48 year-government responsible or 48 months government responsible,” Paswan told reporters here in an apparent dig at the Congress.
Paswan also stressed on the need to change the people’s mindset towards Dalits to end discrimination against them. Raking up attacks on Dalits during non-BJP government, the LJP chief said: “Whose government was there when 58 Dalits were killed at Laxmanpur Bathe in Bihar and 5 Dalits were burnt alive at Jhajjhar in Haryana?” Earlier on Monday, Rahul Gandhi launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the rights of scheduled castes and minorities are under threat.
Paswan, who holds the food and consumer affairs portfolio, said the Congress party lost 2014 election as it “cheated Dalits”. “If Rahul Gandhi eats food at a Dalit’s house, it is a good thing. But if Amit Shah eats then its show-off,” he said. The minister also asked why the Congress party is not allowing granting of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.
When asked whether Dalits would play an important role in the 2019 general election, Paswan said the Dalit vote has always been important and therefore political leaders reach out to the community.