Mahesh Trivedi | India Tomorrow
AHMEDABAD–Gujarat’s five million Dalits have demanded that the Central and state governments pronounce Dr B R Ambedkar as a national leader before April 14, the 130th birth anniversary of the chief architect of India’s Constitution.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his March 12 visit to the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state to launch the celebrations for marking the country’s 75 years of Independence, Dalit leaders have asked him seven pointed questions on why injustice was done to independent India’s first Law and Justice minister by him when he was the Chief Minister during 2001-2014, and later also by his successors.
Kirit Rathod, convener of the Ambedkar Sangharsh Samiti, and nine other torch-bearers of the Scheduled Castes have in the letter urged Modi to break his silence during his Ahmedabad visit and declare whether or not he considered the Bharat Ratna awardee Champion of the Downtrodden as a national leader like Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
Rathod told indiatomorrow.net that the Gujarat government had refused to include the name of the Messiah of the Untouchables in its list of national leaders despite countless letters and representations over the past 14 months by the Samiti, Dalit lawmakers, the Governor and even the National Scheduled Castes Commission.
The result is that the Samiti last week launched a statewide campaign after Rathod’s fervent plea to install Ambedkar’s statue on school premises or hang his photo in all government offices was recently rejected by the state administration
In the letter, Dalit leaders have sought the Prime Minister’s reply during his upcoming visit on why the Dalit man who drafted the Constitution was not being honoured if Ram Nath Kovind belonging to the Scheduled Caste can be installed on the highest Constitutional post of the President.
Other questions include: Why you (Modi), who was Gujarat CM for almost 13 years, forgot to include Ambedkar’s name in the state government’s list of national leaders? Why you hail Ambedkar as a world hero only during elections to woo Dalit voters? Has the BJP in its political agenda decided not to consider the Great Liberator as a national leader?
Atrocities on people belonging to India’s lowest caste have been on the increase in the saffron-ruled state. This month itself, a Dalit RTI activist was hacked to death, wedding processions of at least three Dalits were stoned and Dalit grooms wearing traditional headgear or those using names common among of upper castes were beaten black and blue in various parts of Gujarat.