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Dalit protest at BJP campaign meet, Buddhist monks ask BJP leaders to leave venue

The yatra, which began from Sarnath on April 24, is being supervised directly by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Written by Ishita Mishra | Agra |
July 25, 2016 9:57:14 am

In a major embarrassment for the BJP, a group of Buddhist monks, which is currently campaigning for the saffron party for the assembly polls next year, Sunday showed the door to local BJP leaders in Aligarh after a huge protest by Dalits and Jatavs whose support the group is seeking as part of its campaign.

Currently in its second leg, the Dhamma Chetna Yatra by some 80 monks had reached Baudh Vihar in Naurangabad Sunday where Mayor Shakuntala Bharti was present, along with several local BJP leaders, to greet the spiritualists.

As a large section of Dalits and Jatavs objected to the presence of BJP leaders, the monks promptly asked the latter to leave the premises, leaving the party red-faced.

The yatra, which began from Sarnath on April 24 and was flagged off by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, is being supervised directly by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). PM Narendra Modi is likely to address the yatra’s concluding ceremony on October 14 in Lucknow.
The protesters removed the stage and the seats arranged by the local BJP unit, citing cases of atrocities on the Dalit community in Una, Ghaziabad and other places where BJP is in rule.

While asking the BJP leaders to leave, the monks told them “not to do politics of votes at our spiritual campaign”.Several BJP leaders couldn’t enter the premises of Baudh Vihar as hundreds of Dalits and Jatavs, allegedly backed by BSP, announced to boycott the party. The protesters raised anti-Modi and anti-BJP slogans — “Rohith Vemula ke hatyaron wapas jao”, “Daliton ka shoshan karne waalon wapas jao”, dharma ki rajniti nahin chalegi” — and agreed to call off their demonstration “only if all the BJP leaders leave the premises”.
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Mayor Bharti, who left while apologising for the “inconvenience” caused to the protesters, sought to downplay the embarrassment, saying the members “merely expressed anger” at a recent comment by a expelled BJP leader who had used abusive words against Mayawati.

“Dalits and Jatavs too are family (Hindus). They haven’t protested but simply showed their anger on the comment made by Dayashankar against Mayawati. We, too, apologise for his comment,” Bharti said, adding that “parivar ke hi log they, hum unko mana lenge (the protesters are part of the Hindu family and we will bring them in)”.

BSP’s district president Arvind Kumar denied his party had anything to with the demonstration, and said that it happened because “people are fed up of BJP and showed their anger in their own way”.

Led by Dhamma Viriyo Mahathera, the 87-year-old leader of Akhil Bharatiya Bhikkhu Mahasangh, the yatra is BJP’s campaign to woo Dalits and tell people about the PM’s “commitment for the community’s welfare”. In its six-month-long run, the yatra will cover each of the 75 districts in the state. BJP national president Amit Shah will be in Agra to greet the monks on July 31.

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