AT A time when Dalit MPs, including from the BJP and its allies, are restive about the government’s silence on what they see as a dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, BJP’s Bahraich MP, Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole, has called a “Bharatiya Samvidhan Bachao (Save Indian Constitution)” rally at the Kanshiram Smriti Upvan in Lucknow on April 1.
Claiming a “threat” to the Constitution, Phoole told The Indian Express: “Kabhi kaha ja raha hai ki Samvidhan badalne ke liye aaye hain. Kabhi kaha ja raha hai aarakshan ko khatam karenge. Babasaheb (Ambedkar) ka Samvidhan surakshit nahi hai (Sometimes it is said that they will change the Constitution. Sometimes, it is said they will end reservation. Babasaheb’s Constitution is not safe).”
Alleging a conspiracy against those belonging to backward classes, she said she had given a call to all those in favour of reservation, irrespective of their political affiliations. “Bahujan samaj ka nuksan ho raha hai. Yeh Bahujan samaj ke hit ki ladayi hai, aur log party se upar uthke ismein aayenge (The Bahujan society is suffering. This is a fight for the rights of the Bahujan society, people should rise above party lines to step forward),” she said.
“From Parliament to the streets, I will raise the issue of reservation, as it is our right. If there was no reservation, many Scheduled Caste people, including me, would not have been able to reach Parliament, or become a doctor, or President,” said the 38-year-old MP from Bahraich, a reserved constituency.
Earlier, Phoole had claimed that only the BJP had given true respect to Dalit icons like B R Ambedkar. Asked about her change of stand, she said: “Talking about one’s right should not be seen as a revolt against anyone. Governments may be influenced by those who vote in large numbers, but I am not angry, and I am not opposing anyone. I have realised that someone will have to stand for the rights of our own people.”
She alleged that many reserved posts, at the Centre and state, were lying vacant. “I have been elected to Parliament through reservation… I am ready to take the fight for our rights anywhere,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, UP BJP general secretary, said: “While I do not know what the MP is up to, we can assure that the BJP governments at the Centre and state respect the Constitution and work accordingly. As far as the issue of reservation is concerned, we work on the policy of sabka sath, sabka vikas, which includes all.”
According to Phoole, she started her political career with the BSP, although she did not hold any post in the party. But she later switched to the BJP, and won the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls from Balha constituency (reserved) on a BJP ticket.