While describing the April 2 Bharat Bandh as a landmark event, Dr Raj demanded an ordinance against the Supreme Court’s recent order on SC/ST Act.
New Delhi/Lucknow: The ruling BJP’s so-called “dalit outreach” seems to have got a major setback as several saffron dalit leaders and legislators have come out openly against it. While BJP dalit leader and Bhairaich MP Savitri Bai Phule called the initiative to reach out to dalits by party leaders as a “fake show” and even predicted it will neither help the party or the government, another dalit MP Udit Raj said dalits need “more than leaders going to their houses to eat”. Ms Phule had raised a banner of revolt against the “anti-dalit polices” of the Centre after the recent Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act. The order was seen by many dalit organisations as dilution of the law, against which they had organised a Bharat Bandh on April 2, that saw violent protests in some parts of the country.
While Dr Raj supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for a dalit outreach, the Northwest Delhi MP also pointed out that eating at dalits’ homes would not satisfy them as the community was feeling frustrated due to their unfulfilled “aspirations and expectations”. The BJP had to face massive embarrassment after reports that its UP minister Suresh Rana had feasted at a dalit house where the food was ordered from outside. Another UP minister, Anupama Jaiswal, created more embarrassment when she defended her party leaders visiting dalit homes and having dinner there, saying they do so braving “mosquito bites the whole night”.
Dr Raj refused to comment on what his party colleagues had been doing or reacting over the party’s dalit outreach programme, but said not just the ruling party but also the Opposition parties, intellectuals and even academics need to rethink about the community’s aspirations. He also clarified that unrest among the SC/ST community has been simmering for many years as their aspirations were unfulfilled. The BJP’s latest dalit outreach is part of its Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, that was launched on April 14 to mark the birth anniversary of dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar.
While describing the April 2 Bharat Bandh as a landmark event, Dr Raj demanded an ordinance against the Supreme Court’s recent order on SC/ST Act. “There is so much anger (in the dalit community)... Is it because of not eating with them?” the BJP MP asked, as he added that the court’s order was seen as an infringement of the rights granted by the Constitution.
He said the SC/ST community was feeling frustrated as the youth had no jobs and students had no opportunities outside government schools and colleges. However, trying to maintain a balance, he said dalits were being “marginalised since the 1990s” and “it’s not something that has Ben happening in the last four years”.
Asked about the BJP’s outreach programme, Dr Raj said this “experiment” was started by the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, but that dalits had “taught” the Congress a lesson in 2014. Asked whether his own party could meet the same fate in 2019, Dr Raj said the question was not just related to dalits but to the entire country.
In Lucknow, asked about the BJP’s outreach, Ms Phule said: “Merely sharing a meal with dalits will not increase their respect in society or empower them. If the party leaders genuinely want to share a meal with dalits and give a message of social harmony, they should eat the food prepared in the house of the dalit and eat from their own utensils... If our leaders bring food from outside, it is actually an insult to dalits and their poor economic condition.” She added that injustice was being done to dalits and they should be given respect, government jobs, education, houses and that atrocities on them should be effectively checked.
“However, in the BJP regime, the statues of Dr B.R. Ambedkar are being desecrated,” she said. The RSS, meanwhile, reiterated its stand against any kind of caste-base