LAUNCHING DIRECT attacks on BSP chief Mayawati and Narendra Modi-led central government, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Thursday invited Dalit youths to join hands with his party, which, he claimed, “will form the next government in Uttar Pradesh”.
Rahul, who was in Lucknow to address the Dalit Conclave organised by the party’s state unit, accused Mayawati of “crushing Dalit leadership” and “not properly using the platform” given to her by BSP’s founder Kanshiram. He also said the Centre “killed” Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula (of Hyderabad Central University) whose suicide resulted in a nationwide outrage.
“Mayawati did not allow Dalit leadership to grow. She kept the entire power in her hand and suppressed and crushed the Dalit community. Maybe if she was not afraid of letting an alternate Dalit leadership grow (in BSP), then probably the Congress would not have got the opportunity it has now…Dalits did not get the benefits they should have got,” he said at the conclave, which faced protests by activists of Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, BJP’s youth wing.
Asking young Dalits to join Congress, Rahul promised his party would give them the platform to grow. “Congress wants to give opportunity to young Dalits to grow in Uttar Pradesh,” he said and asked party leaders to go to villages and bastis and “connect Dalits with the Congress” since “UP mein agle chunao ke baad Congress ki sarkaar banegi”.
“Congress has a big opportunity since Dalits have now started raising questions why they did not get any benefits in the last 10 years. We want to invite you (Dalit youths) to Congress and give you powers because you have not progressed the way you should have,” the Congress leader said.
BSP’s emergence on the Uttar Pradesh’s political landscape had led to the gradual erosion of the Congress’s Dalit vote base which the party is now trying to regain.
Asserting that there is an “ideological war going on” in the country between the Congress and the RSS, Rahul said the vice-chancellors of all the universities belong to the right-wing organisation and alleged that it was “a V-C with an RSS mindset” who suppressed Rohith Vemula. “Rohith was killed by the Government of India. He was suppressed by the government and forced to commit suicide. An RSS man is heading the institution there and Rohith’s voice was not heard.”
Accusing the BJP government of trying to stop all social welfare schemes started by the UPA government, he said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had admitted that MGNREGA helped the entire country. “But he (Jaitley) did not have the courage to tell this to the Prime Minister.”
Sources said during a closed-door discussion with party MLAs later in the day, issue of a possible alliance in UP had also come up but Rahul reportedly asked leaders to first prepare things on the ground and wait for some time. Earlier in the day, his visit faced protests by activists of Bajrang Dal and BJYM who waved black flags and also clashed with Youth Congress workers. Some Bajrang Dal men were taken into police custody but were later released.