Millennium Post

‘BJP believes in empowering Dalits’

To begin with let me ask you the definition and role of the president of the SC/ST Morcha of a right-wing nationalist party like the BJP?
Let me tell you at the very outset that the purpose of Schedule Caste wing of any political party is to mobilise the Dalit force for their party. Like the Congress, many socialist parties have done it in the past. Similarly the BJP has created the Schedule Caste Morcha to bring the downtrodden community within its fold – the Scheduled Caste force. The mandate of the Schedule Caste morcha is to recruit and mobilise the Scheduled Castes electorates, voters and supporters for the BJP. It could be said that how is it different from other political party’s wings? I took the charge as president of this wing in the month of April this year, which is a very pious month for this community. April is birth month of Babu Jagjivan Ram and Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Towards the end of April I got installed the four photographs of our four Dalit icons – Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kasnshi Ram and K R Narayanan in the party premises.
Ambedkar has been adopted by one and all due to his fatherly figure. He has been accepted, embraced by everyone – rightist, leftist, separatists, etc – but the other figures like Kanshi Ram, Jagjivan Ram and K R Narayanan are used by select parties. I’m trying to persuade my party men and co-workers that we should equally feel proud about the other three leaders also as we feel about Baba Saheb.

What are your views on Kanshi Ram, the founder of BSP and how can he be adopted by your party?

It’s right that Kashi Ram is a branded leader of Bahujan Samaj Party as he has founded the party. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a Congressman. However, today his policies find more acceptances outside the Congress. He was a man of tall stature. Everybody loves him. In the same way Dalit community loves these four persons. That’s why I told my party men to adopt these leaders and I’m thankful to our party president Rajnath Singh for supporting my idea. After I briefed him, Rajnath said whatever I was doing he was with me. Then, I got the permission to install these portraits in my office. This is a great achievement for us. After photo, now is the time for motto. We started celebrating their birth anniversaries and observing death anniversaries. On 26 November we observed the Constitution Day. SC Morcha is trying to convey a message that Dalits are not only concerned for Dalits.

Since more than 80 per cent of the total population of Dalit community is living in rural areas and since the BJP is an urban-centric party, how are you going to reach out to them? And how will you bring them into your party fold?

We are planning to bring out a white paper on Dalits on what all different parties have done for them in 66 years after Independence. We are telling the general citizen of the country what we did for them when we came to power. More than half of the population is deprived of SC/ST reservation. We are reaching out to them through journeys, yatras like Dalit Uthan Yatra. We will start our yatras from places associated with four icons of the community – Kerala for K R Narayanan, Punjab for Kanshi Ram, Maharashtra for Ambedkar and Bihar for Jagjivan Ram. We are also planning a huge rally next year in which about one lakh Dalits would join the BJP Dalit Morcha.

As far as Dalit emancipation is concerned, how come B R Ambedkar remained the only symbol when the post-Independence era saw emergence of several leaders from this community?
Emancipation is not the question. The question is of empowerment. Emancipation was at earlier stages, when people used to say Dalits clamour and cry for liberation. Now our objective is to empower this community. How they can be made new entrepreneurs, economically viable, socially acceptable and monetary responsible. Politically, socially and economically empowerment are the need of the hour to strengthen this community. We are also pitching for a dedicated university meant only for Dalits. We should start such institutions exclusively for their studies. There are several institutions dedicated for Muslims, so we will also try to setup one Dalit university when we come to power at the Centre.
We are trying different ways to empower. One is through education, as it is the key to success. Social, political and economic empowerment will be our device amongst others. We would try and find means to make Dalits employable. Unemployment is not a problem, but unemployed is a problem.

Government is running several schemes such as hostel facilities, free coaching facilities, but Dalits are not availing those?
I admit this is a problem. There is a gap between benefactor and beneficiary. We are working on that to bridge the gap. We are trying to minimise the corruption, bribery between them. If these would be minimised, the beneficiaries will get their dues.

What complaints do the BJP have about the UPA government following an agenda of justice for downtrodden?
UPA government or non-BJP government are trying to run their party on appeasement. What we feel is don’t appease Dalits. Neither you appease anyone nor tease anyone. Let’s try to please them. Government must have a framework to please the downtrodden community. Government should work on policies to please more and more groups, not just few individuals. My party will implement it and this will help bring the Dalit community into the party fold.
The Congress party, who has been in the government for the most of the time and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi says that he was still think for Dalits; this shows his mental bankruptcy. I don’t blame them. But they have to realise this. Dalits do not trust Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party anymore. People have lost trust in the Congress and they are trying to look beyond. They are coming closer to the BJP. They are putting their efforts to bring the BJP in power.

Don’t you feel that in the sound and fury raised by hawking the agenda of development, the BJP was turning a blind eye to the communities living on margins?
BJP is committed for development with justice. So for the sake of development, justice cannot be ignored. I have also convinced my party men that development is okay, but it should be with justice. Assurance is okay, but it should be with equity. If justice is there then SC upliftment will happen. If development is there, then upliftment will be more. Our party’s motto is development with justice. And I’m sure our people will embrace this. BJP has tremendous potential to get the major chunk of votes of this community in near future. They are disappointed with the Congress, and socialists.
So their only hope is the BJP. The party is also trying hard to get their support. Both BJP as Dal and Dalit as community are coming closer to each other. Our party will get more than 50 per cent of Dalit votes in the next general elections.
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