Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday launched a scathing attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying that he had no moral rights to attack the BJP-led Centre government over Dalit issues as his party has done “nothing” for the community.
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and Dalit leader Paswan made the sharp comments after the Congress president said, “Keeping Dalits at the lowest rung of Indian society is in the DNA of the RSS/BJP.”
"Rahul Gandhi has no moral right to speak on the issues of Dalits. His party only abused him and encouraged others to abuse him," the LGP party chief and Dalit leader said in a press conference.
“The Congress in its long rule had denied Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s portrait space in Parliament central hall. His portrait was only put up only in 1989 when VP Singh was prime minister,” Paswan added.
The BJP-led NDA would continue with their work to strengthen the Dalit community, Paswan said, adding that the current NDA-ruled Centre government made SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was made more stringent.
“The current government has celebrated Ambedkar’s contribution with number of measures, including holding a debate in the parliament. We have also developed the placed associated with him,” Paswan added.
On March 20, the Supreme Court laid new guidelines that protect public servants from immediate arrest after a complaint is filed against them under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Speaking on the Apex Court’s order that caused anger amongst the Dalit community, Paswan said, “Political parties should not politicise the matter. The government has filed a review plea in merely 11 days.”
Paswan also defended Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative to include ‘Ramji’ as a part of BR Ambedkar’s official name, making it Bhirao Ramji Ambedkar.
“Ramji was his middle name, drawn from his father's name. There in nothing objectionable in the government's decision,” the union minister added.
Citing examples, Paswan added that ‘Ram was part of names of many leaders like the President Ram Nath Kovind, Jagjivan Ram".
Dalits and Scheduled Tribes across the country on Monday called a nationwide Bandh against the top court’s order. The protests turned violent in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh as Dalit groups tried to enforce the shutdown.
So far, seven people have died in violence during the Bharat Bandh, including five in Madhya Pradesh, one each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.