Addressing a demonstration by Dalit rights group in Jantar Mantar, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thinking is “Dalit Virodhi”. BJP president Amit Shah hit back, saying that the Congress’s way of treating Dalits is “patronising and condescending”.
The gathering Rahul was speaking at was among many such demonstrations held across the country. After the Parliament passed a Bill to strengthen the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Dalit rights groups called off their plan to hold a Bharat Bandh on Thursday and decided to stage small demonstrations over their other demands.
Rahul said, “Whatever is in the PM’s heart, the policy will be based on that. If there was place in his heart for Dalits, then policy would have been different. In Gujarat, he had made a compilation of his speeches where he said that Dalits get spiritual happiness out of cleaning. Modi, BJP, RSS think that there is no place for Dalits in education and in the future of India. The Congress party and its PM Rajiv Gandhi gave India the Atrocity Act, Modi allowed the Act to be diluted. The judge who diluted it he was promoted and rewarded by the Modi government.”
Saying that Dalits were being “openly beaten up, crushed, killed”, he said the Congress will fight for an India in which the poor, Adivasi, minority, women, all have a place. “Modi’s thinking is Dalit Virodhi. Every person knows that his heart, mind, has not place for Dalits. He wants to crush and silence dalits. You will see this in 2019 that BJP -RSS will be defeated,” he said.
BJP chief Shah shot back with a series of tweets. “Would have been good if Congress President would have spoken about his Party’s treatment towards Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram and Sitaram Kesari. Congress way of treating Dalits is patronising and condescending. For years Congress insulted Dalit aspirations,” he tweeted.
“Is it a co-incidence that the year Mrs. Sonia Gandhi joined the Congress, the Third Front-Congress Government opposed reservations in promotions and the year Rahul Gandhi becomes Congress President they oppose a tough SC/ SCT Act and OBC Commission! Anti-backward mindset visible,” Shah added.
The BJP chief also accused Rajiv Gandhi of opposing the Mandal Commission “tooth & nail” and termed the Congress legacy as “insult Dalit leaders, Dalit pride, oppose Mandal and block OBC Commission”.