SC/ST Act row: Congress fuelling tension in country over Dalit issue, says BJP

With the opposition accusing the ruling party of being "anti-Dalit", several BJP leaders, including many of its Dalit faces, compared the Modi government's works for the development of the community with the alleged neglect of their interests by the Congress.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: April 3, 2018 10:10:07 pm
SC/ST Act row: Congress fuelling tension in country over Dalit issue, says BJP Dalit activists protesting during countrywide Bharat Bandh against the recent judgment by the Supreme Court on the SC & ST (Prevention) Atrocity Act 1989, in Ludhiana on Monday. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh/File)

The BJP on Tuesday accused the Congress of “fuelling tensions” in the society with an eye on elections and urged the opposition party to tell people what it had done for the Dalits during its long rule at the Centre.

With the opposition accusing the ruling party of being “anti-Dalit”, several BJP leaders, including many of its Dalit faces, compared the Modi government’s works for the development of the community with the alleged neglect of their interests by the Congress.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also rejected as “unfounded” the opposition’s charge that the government delayed the filing of a review plea in the Supreme Court against its order on a law on atrocities against Dalits. He stated that the court was closed for six days after the verdict was delivered on March 20. The review was filed yesterday. “Where is the delay? And let me ask Rahul Gandhi that did he appeal for peace and clam yesterday?” he said, targeting the Congress president. “There is tension in the country and the Congress is trying to fuel it,” he said. Prasad also alluded that the opposition may have abetted violence during yesterday’s ‘Bharat Bandh’, pointing out that the BJP-ruled states were the worst hit. “The surrounding circumstances were too suspicious,” he said.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thavarchand Gehlot attacked Gandhi for his jibe that the BJP’s DNA was anti-Dalit. “History suggests that it is the Congress which is anti-Dalit and treated them like a vote bank. Rahul Gandhi should answer as to what he or his party has done for them. “You are trying to make political benefit by fuelling tensions in society but it is not good. You are doing so with an eye on elections,” he said.

Gehlot noted that the first BJP-led NDA government had amended the Constitution to restore benefits for Dalits that were done away with following a court order and added that the Modi government made the atrocities law more stringent with an amendment in 2016. The government celebrated the 125 birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar with year-long events and developed five places, including where he was born and died, associated with him like pilgrimage places, he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate one such centre, where the Dalit icon breathed his last, in Mumbai on April 13, a day before his birth anniversary, Gehlot said, adding that it has been developed at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

The government has developed Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi with a cost of Rs 195 crore, he said. Dalits have been a main target of the government’s welfare and development schemes, he said. “It has taken steps for social equity and empowering Dalits, and has also focussed on their overall development,” he said.

Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal also expressed similar views. He accused opposition parties of trying to mislead people. “It is condemnable that the Congress and the other opposition parties are circulating unfounded, baseless and illogical (information) to gain political mileage in the wake of the Supreme Court decision relating to the SC/ST atrocities act,” Meghwal said.

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