As part of its strategy to woo Dalit voters, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders will address a “Dalit Conclave” in Lucknow on February 18.
The gathering, to be attended by about 1,000 community leaders and Congress workers, would hear senior leaders speak on the party’s association with the Dalits.
The confirmation regarding the conclave came from Rahul’s office Wednesday evening.
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Among the leaders who will attend the conclave include Mukul Wasnik, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Oscar Fernandes, K Raju and Meira Kumar. Wasnik and chief of the party’s UP unit Nirmal Khatri would deliver the welcome address, which will be followed by a discussion on “Ambedkar’s mission and Congress’s vision for socio-economic empowerment of Dalits” under Shinde’s leadership.
Ashok Tanwar and P L Punia, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, would later speak on “strategy for bringing back Dalits into Congress fold”. Fernandes and Bhagwati Chaudhary, head of state Congress’ SC wing, would head the session on “strengthening voices of SC/ST in Congress and current challenges”.
Kumari Selja is scheduled to head the session on “the anti-Dalit approach of BJP and RSS”. Meira Kumar would chair a similar session, on “anti-Dalit approach of BSP”, and a separate session on “anti-Dalit approach of SP”.
After seven sessions, Rahul will step in to address the gathering. A leader said his entire stay at the conclave is expected to be around two hours. Sources inform that after holding the conclave in Lucknow, Rahul would leave for his Parliamentary constituency Amethi the next day.
Rahul is expected to raise the issue of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Congress has kept the heat on against the NDA government over the suicide issue with its SC department raising it at several places across UP during its ongoing “Bhim Jyoti yatra”.
Besides Dalit leaders, about 450 newly-identified grassroots leaders from 84 reserved Assembly segments, who have been selected as part of party’s experiment before the 2017 polls, would also be part of the conclave.
All party MLAs as well as former state presidents would attend the event where entry would be strictly based on invitation, a leader said.
It may be mentioned that during his recent visit to Lucknow, PM Narendra Modi had addressed a gathering at Ambedkar University and also visited Ambedkar Mahasabha.