UNDER FIRE, the government said on Monday that it “does not agree” with the Supreme Court’s “reasoning” on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “The Government of India, with great respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the Supreme Court as far as the judgment is concerned. Surely, the senior lawyers of the Government of India in the Supreme Court will argue this matter with legal preparation and authority. This judgment needs to be reconsidered,” said Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“Our commitment, Modiji’s commitment and the NDA’s commitment to the welfare of the Dalits is complete and total,” said Prasad, adding that the party has the largest number of Dalit MPs.
“The BJP has been a well-wisher of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs from the days of Jan Sangh. The party has taken several decisions in their interest. The Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) government amended the Constitution to restore their constitutional rights,” said Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot.
The escalating protests across the country seem to have forced the government’s hand. “We did not want Dalits to be on the streets against the government at a time when the party is preparing to face crucial electoral battles,” said a senior BJP leader.
Besides criticism from the Opposition, the BJP has been facing protests from within too. Its Bahraich MP, Savitri Bai Phoole held a rally in Lucknow on Sunday, where she targeted the government on the reservation issue and crimes against Dalits. Last week, the NDA’s Dalit MPs met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked the government to file a review petition.