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Raj: BJP made Kovind Prez for 'keeping quiet' on Dalit issues

New Delhi: Disgruntled Bharatiya Janata Party MP Udit Raj, who switched over to the Congress on Wednesday after being denied a ticket from North West Delhi, accused the saffron party of nominating Ram Nath Kovind for the President's post because he 'kept quiet' over Dalit issues.

Launching an attack on his former party hours after his exit, the Dalit leader said, "The BJP had refused to give a ticket to Ram Nath Kovind as he kept quiet. So he was made the President."

Raj claimed that the BJP replaced him with Punjabi sufi singer Hans Raj Hans because he had raised his voice for Dalits. "I am sure that if I had not raised my voice, then maybe I would have been made the Prime Minister," he said.

The miffed MP said that though his party wanted Dalit votes, it did not want Dalit leaders. "If at all they want a Dalit leader, he should be silent," Raj said, adding that he wanted to join Congress much earlier, but the circumstances were not favourable.

Hailing the schemes of the Congress, Raj said, "It was the contribution of Congress government that was protected by the constitution, but the Modi government changed its status from constitutional to general so that the funds allocated for the upliftment of Dalits could be used for other schemes. The Modi government is totally anti-Dalit."

He also attacked the party's programmes, saying the Mudra Bank scheme "only benefited drivers and helpers of big businessmen instead of the people who actually needed it".

Raj said that he was 'hurt' by the fact that the BJP did not inform him of their decision earlier, leaving him hopeful of a ticket right up to the moment Hans was announced as the candidate.

"The BJP uses internal survey to choose its candidates and even though I was deemed most popular, I was refused a ticket because I had supported Dalits in their recent protests," Raj said.

Present on the occasion, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said, "Udit Raj is a dynamic and sincere face of Indian politics. He fought for the rights of Dalits. For the last five years, the Modi government has been an anti-Dalit government."

Welcoming Raj into the grand old party, DPCC president Sheila Dikshit told reporters that they know each other for the last 20 years. "I was surprised when he had joined BJP. Now, he has been freed from BJP. Raj would prove to be helpful in winning more seats in Delhi," she said.

In reply to a question related to the interview of the Prime Minister, Randeep Surjewala said, "Akshay Kumar is a great actor. We all like him, but, Modi is a successful actor and unsuccessful politician who decimated India's economy. It's interesting that PM Modi who has made life hell for Indian farmers is now trying to become a better actor than Akshay Kumar."

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