Vastavam web: The BJP today claimed that it was the only “pro-Dalit” party and accused opposition parties, including the Congress and the BSP, of abetting violence over issues concerning the community as part of a conspiracy to vitiate the atmosphere.The BJP fielded Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Thawarchand Gehlot to launch a counter attack on opposition parties, which have targeted the saffron party over Dalit issues. They accused Congress chief Rahul Gandhi of fuelling the fire with his “lies and rumour-mongering”.Violent protests during a ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by several Dalit groups on April 2 left at least 11 people dead. It brought to fore the grievances of the community and also triggered a war of words between the opposition and the ruling BJP.
Gehlot, the most prominent Dalit leader of the BJP, said Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram never supported violent protests as he attacked the Congress and the Mayawati-led BSP.”The opposition should not work to divide the country for political interests,” he said.
The BJP’s charge was that the matter was being politicised as Prime Minister Narendra Modi came from a poor family and the BJP had largest number of Dalit and tribal MPs and MLAs in its fold.Prasad claimed that the maximum violence was seen in those parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the Congress and the BSP had influence.Gehlot said the Narendra Modi-led government had strengthened the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with amendments in 2016 and done a lot to celebrate Ambedkar’s legacy, including observing his birth anniversary with year-long events and building memorials in places linked to him.
Citing Gandhi’s reported comments that the act had been abrogated, Prasad alleged that he was fuelling the fire with his lies.To a question about Gandhi’s planned fast, he said in a June that the Congress leader had a right to do so but should refrain from spreading rumours.Parties like the Congress and the BSP did nothing for Dalits and at times even worked against their interests, Prasad and Gehlot alleged.It was Mayawati who as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister in 2007 wrote to the state police to stop misuse of the act while the Congress did not accord Bharat Ratna to Ambedkar for decades following his death in 1956, Prasad claimed.Taking a dig at the Congress, he said the party had now discovered love for Ambedkar.