A BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh has courted controversy by stating that the country’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, was given to “undeserving” people before 1990, the year when the then V P Singh government bestowed the honour on dalit icon B R Ambedkar posthumously.
Laxmi Narayan Yadav, who represents Sagar Lok Sabha seat, on Monday said he had made the statement on April 14 to “stress” that the award had eluded Ambedkar for long. He, however, admitted that the language he had used in his speech might be “a slip of the tongue”.
While addressing a programme to mark the 126th birth anniversary of Ambedkar in his constituency, Yadav had said that the Bharat Ratna was given to undeserving people before 1990.
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“’Pahile nachaiyye, gavaiyye...chhote, bade...jo jitna badmash tha woh utna jaldi le gaya’ (Before 1990, the dancers, singers, small, big (people)...the bigger the scoundrel the sooner he got the award),” he had said.
During his speech, the MP said the award (which he mentioned as ‘Desh Ratna’) eluded Ambedkar till 1990 due to the “casteist mindset of the country.”
“Despite being a Thakur, VP Singh (then Prime Minister) felt the need to correct the injustice done to scheduled castes of the country. Since then, scheduled caste community is feeling a sense of pride,” Yadav had said.
He told PTI on Monday that the controversy was unnecessary.
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“The programme was hosted by an organisation of Dalit employees to mark the birth anniversary of Ambedkar.
“I know the people who are behind this controversy. It is unnecessary. I was just saying that it was in 1990 when then Prime Minister VP Singh bestowed Bharat Ratna on Ambedkar. The award had eluded Dr Ambedkar until then,” he said.
When asked about the choice of words in his speech, the BJP MP said his language was only meant for the local audience.
“I was just trying to prove my point. The language I used was to make the local people understand. May be something went wrong due to slip of tongue,” Yadav added.