New Delhi: The Congress and other Opposition parties that have been accusing the BJP of being anti-dalit were cornered when Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan questioned their pro-dalit credentials by posing 14 questions related to B.R. Ambedkar and laws linked to the marginalised sections.
Attacking Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Mr Paswan said, “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi, who claims to be a well wisher of dalits, why did his party contested against dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar when he fought Lok Sabha elections twice? Why is there no portrait of Ambedkar in Parliament’s Central Hall while there are portraits of three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family? Why did his party not award Ambedkar the Bharat Ratna when it was in power while filmstars were honoured with the same award?”
Mr Paswan also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the quick passage of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities amendment) bill in Parliament to address concerns of dalits and tribals.
The bill overturns the Supreme Court order that had diluted the provision on immediate arrest of those accused of committing atrocities against dalits.
Training his guns on BSP chief Mayawati over dalit welfare issue, Mr Paswan accused her of adopting “double standards”.
He alleged that when she was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had created hurdles in immediate arrest of accused under the SC/ST Act and proposed a probe before taking an accused into custody.
Her government had issued a guideline in October 2007 against the misuse of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and said that police should register a case only after probing a complaint made under this law, he said.
Targeting the Samajwadi Party, Mr Paswan said, “When all parties were in favour of a bill for reservation in promotion for dalits why did the SP oppose it? Like all Opposition parties, they are also anti-dalits and so is the grand alliance.”
Mr Gandhi has been attacking the Modi government over alleged rising atrocities against Dalits. He is also citing a media report which claims that BJP-ruled states registered the highest number of crimes against the Scheduled Castes.