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Game UP: Samajwadi Party faces split as Mulayam expels Akhilesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a bombshell, expelling his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday evening, all eyes are now on the party’s one-day national convention on Sunday.Mulayam also expelled his cousin and party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav for calling the emergency session of delegates, and accused him of “spoiling the career of the chief minister.” The SP chief said both Akhilesh and Ramgopal have been sacked for weakening the party and stated that his son didn’t even consulted him on state matters.In a fight to the finish, Mulayam and his brother Shivpal Yadav have summoned a meeting of party MLAs on Saturday and those named as candidates. Both factions of the Yadav family are vying to entice as many MLAs as they can to strengthen the party. “This expulsion is unconstitutional,” said Ramgopal, alleging that of late, the SP has made a practice of ignoring its playbook. “Half an hour after we were given notice, we were expelled. Even a criminal is given a chance to explain,” said a disgruntled Ramgopal.Party sources from Lucknow told DNA that the convention will appeal to Mulayam to continue to lead the party, but relook the list of candidates he had announced unilaterally on Wednesday and also revoke the decision to expel the Chief Minister. The list, announced by Mulayam, has several candidates backed by Shivpal whose candidacy had been fiercely opposed by Akhilesh. This included gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed, who faces 44 serious criminal charges — including murder.Defying the party and his father, Akhilesh released his own rebel list on Thursday of 235 candidates. One of them included Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Formerly with the Congress before she switched to the BJP, Joshi is the MLA from Lucknow Cantt constituency.The party’s senior leader Madhukar Jaitley described the situation as “unfortunate”. He said a situation was unprecedented where a father, also the founder of the party, was compelled to expel his son. SP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said there was still room for reconciliation, but expressed concern at the move coming at a time when the state was on the verge of elections.Saturday will be a crucial day for the Mulayam and Shivpal camps, party sources said. The majority of MLAs have so far reposed their faith in the Chief Minister.On October 28, Akhilesh had mustered the support of 190 MLAs out of SP’s 229 against his uncle Shivpal. Besides legislators, the majority of party leaders as well owe allegiance to the Chief Minister, as they see him as the future of the party. Immediately after the decision, reports from Lucknow said workers thronged Akhilesh’s official residence, shouting slogans against Shivpal. Over 100 MLAs reached Akhilesh’s house to express support. There were also shouts of self-immolation as the crowds turned emotional.With elections now so close, there is hardly any possibility of the party replacing the Chief Minister now. In case of a majority of MLAs expressing a no-confidence motion, Akhilesh may be allowed to continue as caretaker. Otherwise, the state will move towards the imposition of President’s rule. Sources in Raj Bhawan said Governor Ram Naik is keeping a close eye on the developments, but, so far, no communication has been made to him from either the Mulayam or Akhilesh camp.Denying speculations that Akhilesh will resign, his loyalist Gomti Yadav said the CM will stay on till his last day in power.Already other parties are moving in to align forces. West Bengal CM and Trinamul Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee called up Akhilesh and offered support, saying “you are like my brother.” Congress leader Jayanta Prasad is already mediating between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh for a possible electoral tie-up.While UP’s ruling party has been headed for a split for some time now, the break point came after Ramgopal called an emergency convention of the party in defiance of the party chief. This came after Mulayam issued a show-cause notice to his son, asking him why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for releasing a parallel list of candidates, which include several party leaders close to him and who did not make it to the official list released by his father a day before. Akhilesh’s list include 187 candidates who have also featured in his father’s list.The Chief Minister’s defiant move was seen as a last-ditch effort to pressure his father into reconsidering the candidacy of his key aides after they failed to reach common ground at a meeting in Lucknow. In recent months, Akhilesh has engaged in a bitter power tussle with Shivpal, who is the party’s UP chief. Notably, Shivpal was present next to Mulayam, when he announced the expulsion of Akhilesh.The SP’s internal battle gives an added advantage to the BJP and Mayawati’s BSP in the mega battle being touted as the semi-final before the general elections in 2019. Elections to UP’s 403 assembly seats are expected to be announced by the Election Commission any day now.The battle, which had been festering for over a year, had been triggered by Shivpal to control the party. This was resisted by Akhilesh, mentored by Ramgopal, his father’s cousin. Akhilesh has contended with a constant undermining of his decisions by Mulayam, under the alleged influence of Shivpal. Among the initiatives which his father thwarted include the lobbying for an alliance with the Congress for state elections, and a request to shun politicians with criminal backgrounds as candidates.Battle between the bahusIt is not just the father and son who are locked in a political battle. It is also a battle between the daughters-in-law. Aparna, wife of Mulayam’s second son Prateek, has stood by uncle Shivpal against Akhilesh’s wife Dimple, who is also an MP. Aparna had recently been handed a ticket from Lucknow Cantt. With the situation getting uglier between the father and the son, theories about the rift continue to emerge. Akhilesh’s supporters allege that Sadhna Gupta, the party chief’s second wife, and the Chief Minister’s stepmother, has instigated him against his eldest son. Now, with his expulsion, Akhilesh, Aparna and Sadhna are vying to become the youth face of the SP. Who will win the political games now remains to be seen.UP Caste Composition in 2016OBC 44%Dalits (Scs) 21.1%Tribals (Sts) 0.8%Forward Caste 16%Muslims 19.3%Christians 0.18%Out of OBCsYadavs -9%Lodhi -7%Jats -1.7%KUSHWAHA (MAURYA, SHAKYA, KOERI, KACHHI, SAINI) 4%Kurmi – 3%Other OBCs (including Sunars, few Muslim OBCs) -20%Jatavs Dalits -9%Non-Jatav Dalits (includes Pasis, Mallah and Valmikis) -11%

Rs 104 crore deposit: Mayawati raises caste card, RS Prasad calls it ‘an insult to Dalits’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the ED detected deposits of a whopping Rs 104 crore in BSP’s bank account, a furious party supremo Mayawati dubbed it as an attempt by “anti-dalit” BJP and Modi government to tarnish her party’s image by misusing the official machinery. Two senior ministers in the Modi dispensation, including BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP, shot back, saying her dalit identity does not give her “licence” to engage in corruption and that the former UP chief minister was trying to “hide corruption” by raking up the issue of her origin.A major contender for power in the most populous state of the country which goes to polls a few months from now, Mayawati claimed the money detected by the Enforcement Directorate at a Delhi bank on Monday was accounted for and played the dalit card in her bid to turn the tables on BJP, calling it “anti-dalit”. “BJP leaders having casteist mentality do not want that a ‘dalit ki beti’ should get the master key of the biggest state’s politics and work for the welfare of 90% poor and deprived…it will bring an end to their capitalist politics,” she told a hurriedly called press conference in Lucknow.”All deposits are as per norms and party rules and the money was collected before note ban. Should we have thrown it?” she asked.Terming the ED action as an effort to tarnish BSP’s image ahead of UP Assembly elections just few months away, Mayawati said the “anti-Dalit” BJP managed a section of the media. “After I exposed the conspiracy of BJP in forcing an alliance between SP and Congress yesterday, BJP was taken aback and out of sheer frustration it indulged in such a petty act against BSP and family members of the party chief,” she alleged.BJP, which is seeking to re-establish its primacy in the key Hindi heartland state following a remarkable showing in the Lok Sabha polls there in 2014, hit back quickly, insisting she was trying to hide corruption by using her dalit identity. “Her allegations are baseless and we reject it with the contempt they deserve. If the Enforcement Directorate does a routine exercise, why is she so rattled? Will your corruption be hidden in the name of Dalits.”Does Mayawati want to say that her corruption should be seen as a fight against dalits? It is an insult of dalits,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference in Delhi. Noting that she did not deny the deposits in the BSP’s account, he asked, “It raises a bigger question. Is it a donation or money conversion exercise?”Paswan, a prominent dalit face in the ruling NDA, came down heavily on Mayawati, saying her origin does not give her a “licence” to indulge in corruption and that she should let the law take its own course. “My party LJP works for Dalits. We have six Lok Sabha members and the total money in LJP’s bank account is Rs 1,03,198. Being a daughter of a dalit does not give you licence to indulge in corruption. She must let law take its course and let authorities probe her party’s account,” he told reporters in the national capital.Mocking Mayawati’s strident opposition to demonetization since it was announced on November 8, the LJP president said it has now become clear “why the likes of her and RJD chief Lalu Prasad” have been its most vocal critics. “They were hit the hardest. That is why they are making so much of noise,” he said.Mayawati, however, insisted that “every rupee” in BSP’s account in a Delhi bank were accounted for. “We have account of every rupee deposited in bank…this money has been collected through membership fee all over the country and brought for deposit by converting it into big denomination notes as it is easy to carry from remote areas,” she said.Mayawati, however, said the ED action at BJP’s bidding was a “good omen” for her party as in 2007 too when the then NDA government at the Centre had raked up Taj corridor issue, it had helped her secure an absolute majority in the UP Assembly. “If Modi and central government take a few more decisions like note ban, it will make our return to power in UP easier …they will pave our way for an easy victory and I will not have to toil much…I want to thank them for it,” she said.The ED detected cash deposits totalling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to the BSP on Monday and Rs 1.43 crore in another belonging to Mayawati’s brother Anand at a branch of United Bank of India in Delhi during a routine survey and enquiry operations to check suspicious and huge cash deposits in banks post-demonetization. “BJP and other parties have also deposited their money in banks. Nobody is talking about that,” she said, adding it only proved the “anti-dalit and casteist mentality” of the ruling party.Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she demanded that he make public the deposits made by BJP during the 10 months preceding the November 8 decision of banning Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. “If BJP and the PM have any truth and honesty left, they would have disclosed BJP’s deposits 10 months before November 8 and after that date while making BSP’s deposits public,” she said.Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected Mayawati’s claim that the ED’s action was linked to her assertion that the BJP was pushing SP and Congress for an alliance for the UP assembly polls. “This is nothing but her frustration. She made these comments only yesterday while deposits were made much earlier… As far as BJP is concerned, even if SP, BSP and Congress come together, it will emerge victorious,” he said.

Rohith Vemula aftermath: 12 recommendations from HRD ministry and Podile stays on as V-C

A year ago, on 18 December 2015, Rohith Vemula — Dalit PhD scholar from the University of Hyderabad — wrote a letter dripping with sarcasm to the vice-chancellor of the university, V Appa Rao Podile, about the discrimination being meted out to Dalit students.

He wrote, offering a ‘solution for the Dalit problem’:

1. Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.
2. Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from your companion, the great Chief Warden.

As we, the scholars, PhD students have already passed that stage and already members of Dalit Self-Respect movement unfortunately, we here are left with no easy exit, it seems. Hence, I request your highness to make preparations for the facility “EUTHANASIA” for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.”

A month later, on 17 January, 2016, Rohith Vemula committed suicide. The suicide rose to national importance as it shed light on a deeply disturbing, yet ignored facet of Indian universities: Caste discrimination. The February 2016 protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sparked important and much needed debates on freedom of speech and the right to dissent. The two incidents awoke a new political consciousness among students — spreading across various universities and campuses, students took to the streets in the national capital demanding justice for the Dalit scholar and an adequate response to the JNU crisis.

A file photo of Rohith VemulaA file photo of Rohith Vemula

A file photo of Rohith Vemula

While the goal should have been to introspect, what was achieved was nothing material — it was probed whether Rohith Vemula was in fact a Dalit, his mother was questioned.

He was a Dalit.

Then, he was not.

Then again, he was — mere distractions from addressing the elephant in the room. Political mileage was gained, Vemula’s name was on the Opposition’s lips hoping to score brownie points and Vemula’s name probably occupied a larger corner in the minds of those running the government.

Why are we going over these tiresome details of case forgotten? Didn’t we move on to other news? The National Anthem directive, perhaps? (no, we seem to be over that one too). These tiresome boring details must be revisited to address the people who haven’t forgotten, those who feel wronged by a system that perhaps isn’t there to support them in the first place.

What has come out of the Vemula suicide and the subsequent political storm?

One, a 12-point recommendation from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on how to prevent campus suicides. The HRD ministry added six points to Roopanwal Commission’s six recommendations to curb campus suicides. The measures suggested by the ministry include a “strong induction programme  for better acclimatisation and establishing a local guardian system for outstation students,” “grievances of students should be discussed and dispensed with on weekly basis and vice-chancellors should hold monthly meetings.”

Two, Appa Rao Podile’s continued tenure as the the vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad. On Sunday, Dontha Prashanth, Seshaiah Chemudagunta and Vijay Kumar (Pedapudi), Vemula’s friends, fellow Dalits and PhD students who were also suspended along with Vemula from the University of Hyderabad wrote a letter to the President of India, urging him to remove Podile as the vice-chancellor of the university. He was reinstated even while protests were in full-swing, just a few months after the suicide. If the idea was to allay the burgeoning anger amid students, why wasn’t a man with sub-par academic qualifications, especially one with a history of unethical academic practices such as plagiarism allowed to continue as the university’s vice-chancellor?

Students asking for Podile’s removal is not new, such demands have been made earlier by the student body of the University of Hyderabad. Prashanth, Chemudagunta, Pedapudi had earlier written an open letter to the Prime Minister of India in August this year:

What action was taken after a committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development brought out the institutional lapses that led to Rohith’s suicide? Why did you not speak, Mr Prime Minister, when Smriti Irani spoke utter lies in Parliament? What happened to the Judicial Commission appointed by HRD Ministry which was supposed to submit its report by 1 August, 2016?

The anger in the University of Hyderabad has been simmering for a long time. 189 academics had written a letter to the President of India, seeking his intervention in the Rohith Vemula, asking for the dismissal of the vice-chancellor. JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar and the face of the Indian student politics for well over a year wrote a dramatic letter to Smriti Irani about Vemula (and the state of Dalits in the country).

The three other students will perhaps continue writing letters because everything else has been done, yielding little to nothing. Simmering anger, growing resentment and disappointment make for powerful ink, but what if the system ends up being illiterate?

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 10:20 IST

Maratha concerns are important, but for Dalits, Atrocities Act must be protected

More than six lakh Dalits gathered at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar (on 6 December) to pay homage to Dr BR Ambedkar. A group of volunteers from the Facebook Ambedkarite Movement (FAM) had put up a banner stating: “Need to protect the Atrocities Act”. The banner was put up at the entrance of the nearby Shivaji Park — a popular spot for hosting several political gatherings. The banner carried some important clauses of the Atrocities Act, used to prevent the commission of offences/atrocities against the people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. A blank space was provided on one side of the banner.

File image of Dalit protests. PTI

File image of Dalit protests. PTI

Many Dalits, especially the Buddhists had expressed their views by writing on the banner until late at night. And while the signature campaign was in full force at Chaityabhoomi on the night of 6 December, a shocking incident had occurred nearly 275 kilometres away from Mumbai. At 10.30 pm, a mob of 250 people were heard shouting slogans that named ‘Shivaji Maharaj’. They had attacked a Buddhist settlement in a village called Chinchner Vandan in Satara district. These people allegedly belonged to the Maratha caste. More than 50 households were destroyed in the attack. Marathi media reports suggested that household items and vehicles belonging to the Buddhist community had been destroyed.

Around 31 people were arrested after the attack and were booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. There has been a city-wide strike in Satara, post-attack. Even police security was tightened to maintain the law and order in Chinchner Vandan village and places in and around Satara.

The attack was allegedly the result of a rift between people from two different communities living in the same village. Siddharth Danane of Chinchaner village reportedly killed Aruna Mohite on 30 November. Siddharth was a Buddhist and Aruna belonged to the Maratha caste and both of them were romantically involved. Danane was arrested on 5 December in connection with the murder. The romantic involvement of a Buddhist man with a Maratha girl was intolerable for the villagers belonging to the Maratha community. They expressed their intolerance on the night of 6 December. Before the attack they allegedly cut down the electricity connection in the Buddhist settlement.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first such case in Satara or Maharashtra. These incidents have occurred quite often in the past due to such killings that stem from love affairs between Dalits and members from the Maratha community.

Per the recent records of the Maharashtra State Police, the implementation of the Atrocities Act remains a futile exercise as Satara district has reported around 282 complaints of such a nature — between January 2011 and August 2016. Besides, Solapur alone reported 449, Nashik 260, Jalna 299, Beed 444 and Nanded 359 registered cases/FIRs under the Atrocities Act.

A few months ago, some Dalit men had raped a Maratha girl in Kopardi, a small village in Ahmednagar district. In reaction to this incident, Sharad Pawar, president of the Nationalist Congress Party had appealed to revoke the Atrocities Act. Taking back his statement the next day, Pawar had stated that he did not mean to revoke the Act but would suggest for few amendments for better functioning. Politically speaking, he may be inclined towards the Marathas but he has always tried to project himself as an all-inclusive and secular politician. Just a few days after the incident, Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had visited the victim’s family and had also suggested that “the Act needs some amendments, as some Dalits have misused this Act to threaten or blackmail upper caste people”.

On the other hand, a few Dalit office bearers from the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (the MNS’ student wing) lodged a complaint against Dr Kavita Rege, principal of Sathaye College in Mumbai, under the Atrocities Act. The MNS is the only political party to lodge complaint against the principal of an educational institution under the Act. But, Raj seems to have forgotten this.

Representational image of a Maratha Morcha. PTI

Representational image of a Maratha Morcha. PTI

After these statements from Pawar and Raj, members of the Maratha community planned silent protests in many districts of Maharashtra. There was speculation in political circles that Pawar might be the brain behind Maratha’s silent march. However, he chose to stay away from it. The first demand of the protesters was a death sentence for all the convicts involved in the Kopardi case. However, the long-term objective was to bring necessary amendments in the Atrocities Act, to avoid its misuse and provide reservation for the Maratha community. They had a few demands on the financial, social and cultural fronts, as well. Apart from the Atrocities Act, all major political parties have openly shown a positive response to every other demand proposed by them. Ramdas Athawale, president of the Republican Party of India and Member of Parliament, has supported these demands too, except the demand for amendments to the Atrocities Act.

In response to the Maratha Morcha, the Dalits announced a ‘Bahujan Kranti Morcha’ from 14 December to 21 January, 2017 in districts across the state of Maharashtra.

Many communities including the Marathas have pointed out the misuse of the Atrocities Act. This allegation is, however, some perspective is required. On the other side, there has been an increase in the crime rate against Dalits and the people belonging to the Buddhist community. At the national level, we have been witnessing atrocity against people belonging to Scheduled Castes, such as Chamar, Bhangi and other related Scheduled Tribes. As per the information shared by the National Crime Record Bureau in 2000, around 1,486 Dalit women were raped and around 585 Dalits were killed. In 2014, this number rose to 3,158 and 861 respectively. According to various social activists and as with most criminal records, the reported number is lower than the actual number of atrocities.

In this context, the Atrocities Act is important and must stay.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 10:39 IST

Niti Aayog to examine if SC/ST sub-plans can be non-lapsable

New Delhi: Niti Aayog has been asked to explore ways to find out how allocations under the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-plan can be made non-lapsable.

The decision was taken at a recent meeting on Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) monitoring framework chaired by the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Also, to put an end to the tussle between the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Niti Aayog over the monitoring of SCSP, it was decided that SCSP will now be monitored by the ministry.

Bibek-Debroy_ForbesIndiaBibek-Debroy_ForbesIndia

Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy. Courtesy Forbes India

Similarly, the TSP will be monitored by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

“Both the ministries (SCSP and TSP) will develop monitoring based on the framework designed by Niti Aayog. The system will be put in place in 60 days and will focus not just on financial allocations and utilisation but also on outcomes,” according to an official document.

SCSP and TSP mandate every central ministry to allocate budget for the welfare of Dalits and tribals.

“Niti Aayog will examine if the allocations under the SCSP and TSP be made non-lapsable in addition to the non-divertible. Niti Aayog may examine this in consultation with the relevant ministries and Cabinet Secretariat and recommend appropriate action,” the official document stated.

“A major chunk of the funds allocated under the SCSP and TSP by different ministries remain unutilised and goes back to exchequer at the end of fiscal.

“Now Niti Aayog has been asked to explore ways to see if the allocated amount under these schemes can be made non-lapsable so that the unutilised amount remains in the corpus and carried forward in the next fiscal,” said a government official.

Tribal Ministry allocated Rs 1,250 crore under the TSP for the fiscal 2015-16 out of which Rs 1,132 crore could be utilised.

Similarly, around Rs 4,500 crore was allocated by Ministry of Social Justice in the last fiscal of which around Rs 3000 crore could be utilised.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 10:44 IST

Watch: Woman claims Rahul Gandhi promised to marry her (in her dreams)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If the recent events of demonetization and political bickering over it has dampened your mood, this bizarre story is sure to make you laugh.An unidentified woman from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh has professed her love for Rahul Gandhi and even claimed that he has promised to marry her in her dreams.She has claimed that she had met Gandhi once in 2014 and a few more times later and has been besotted by him since then. Calling Gandhi a good man, she says she is convinced that he will marry her. ” He has spoken to Dalits, had meals with Dalits, lived with them. I am an OBC and supported Congress for a long time. So why wouldn’t he marry me?” she says. When asked whether Gandhi ever suggested a marriage proposal to her, the woman replied that he indeed did so, in her dreams. “He has promised marriage and children in my dreams,” she has claimed.Watch the video below:

BSP picks BJP as the main adversary to get winning Dalit-Muslims combo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Signaling a strategic shift, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) seemed to have picked up its main adversary in BJP leaving out the feud ridden incumbent Samajwadi Party and even the Congress in its scheme of things.Concentrating on the winning combination of Dalits with Muslims that together constitute nearly 40% chunk of the voting population, BSP supremo, Mayawati attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for forcing his opinion on religious matters on the issue of triple talaq.The PM should not “force his opinion and decision” on the believers of any particular religion by “following the RSS agenda”, said Mayawati reminding BJP and RSS Article 25 of the Constitution that gives all citizens the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.At a rally in Mahoba, Budelkhand on Monday, PM Modi had denounced the practice of triple talaq among Muslims and condemned the attempts to politicise the issue.Accusing the BJP led government for tinkering with issues related to Shariat, Mayawati she said such matters should be left to the Muslim community and not raked up with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections in some states for political gains.“BJP and its central government led by Narendra Modi have now started a new controversy over Muslim personal law, triple talaq and common civil code before the Assembly elections in some states to serve its petty politics. BSP strongly condemns this despicable act,” Mayawati said in a statement.A day before also, Mayawati had left out SP and Congress and concentrated her attack on Modi alone. She had blamed Modi for proving to be an utter failure in meeting his lofty promises and getting reduced to a PM who was interested only in engraving his nameplate on various projects that were already in the pipeline.Explaining the strategic shift, BSP insiders say, “As of now the SP because of its ugly internal feud has become a minor player in UP elections, the Congress still remains a spent force. The main opponent as we see is the BJP alone which is trying to hard sell the notion that it is pro-Dalit.But given the hardcore Brahminical agenda of the RSS, it is not going to impact our core supporters, leaving out the Muslims who would want to go with the party that has chances of winning and can given them sense of security and opportunity, the add.

As SP squirms, Rahul Gandhi launches Dalit outreach in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Congress is seriously watching the developments in the Samajwadi Party (SP), vice-president Rahul Gandhi is set on another ‘yatra’ focused on Dalits to drum up support in the hinterland ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections next year. Encouraged by this ‘Kisan Yatra’ where he covered 3,500km and 48 districts in 26 days, Gandhi’s second round of tour to focus entirely on Dalits is scheduled to start from November 11 to last till January next year.At a recent meeting of party strategists, it was conveyed that farmer focus was not enticing the urban population as well as landless downtrodden. There was also a concern that Congress cadres are not able to keep up the tempo, generated by road shows and street. To keep up energy levels, it was decided to carry out “Rahul Sandesh Yatra”. The second phase of this yatra will start from November 2 to 10 to cover all districts across the state. During Gandhi’s Dalit outreach, suggestions have come to arrange block-level meetings, intensive mass-contact programmes to come up with local manifestos.Contours of the Congress strategy after Diwali festival were discussed by the senior party leaders in a meeting chaired for the first time by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (44) and a decision was taken to focus on the urban voters and Dalits not touched by Rahul during his Kisaan Yatra. Party leaders say, Dalits together with Brahmins and Muslims used to be party’s traditional combination to win elections. In a bid to woo back the Dalits lost by the Congress to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the party has identified 8,500 villages that have at last 1,000 Dalits or have more than 50% Dalit population. The plan is to send 200 teams of three members each fan out to these villages and organise a day-long “Dalit Sabha” to mobilise the people. The plan also included door-to-door campaign with the slogan “Shiksha, Suraksha, Swabhiman, Congress ke saat, Daliton ka Utthan.” A similar Dalit overreach programme is planned in Punjab as well as a counter to the Jat community aligned with the Akali Dal of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.Insiders said that leaders at the meeting chaired by Priyanka said that their ground reports suggest that people were asking them to forge a Bihar-type alliance to give confidence to its voters that it was in a winning combination.The meeting was attended by senior leaders from Uttar Pradesh, in addition to general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and state chief Raj Babbar, chief minister candidate Sheila Dikshit and party secretaries. “The secretaries and a few senior vice-presidents conveyed to Priyanka that people felt the Congress should forge an alliance as standing up alone all of a sudden would be difficult,” they said. Meanwhile, the Congress has refuses to comment on the SP feud, even as many leaders have been arguing to approach the chief minister Akhilesh for an alliance to take advantage of his good image.

Atrocities an excuse; reservation the key issue in rally war between Marathas and Dalits

Over two lakh Dalits participated in a rally on 16 October in Beed district of Maharashtra, demanding a tougher Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The rally led by a young kid, and followed by girls, women, senior citizens and youngsters, concluded with the group handing over a representation to the district collector. Strict punishment to the accused who brutally raped and murdered a 13-year-old Maratha girl on 13 July 2016 in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district was one of the other demands.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This was the first time Dalits had taken to the street, almost more than two months after members of the Maratha community and other upper castes started organising rallies at various cities across the state. Since 9 August, the first Maratha rally in Aurangabad, Marathas have held over 40 rallies with each rally witnessing more than three to five lakh participants.

But why now? According to political pundits, the answer to the question isn’t as clear as perceived.

An analogy of demands

The Maratha rallies began with a demand of stricter punishment for the accused in the Kopardi rape case. Now it also includes demands like reservation for Marathas and removal of recent amendments to the SC/ST (PoA) Act.

The Dalits also demand strict punishment for the Kopardi rape accused, and have not opposed reservation for Maratha community. It’s the latter that has scared them. While the Marathas want removal of the recent amendments in the SC/ST (PoA) Act, the Dalits want tougher rules in the act.

People vs party: Who is behind Dalit rallies?

When talks of Dalit marches started doing the rounds, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and president of Bharatiya Republic Party and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, called Dalit orginisations across the state to withhold from organising rallies against Maratha rallies. He alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were trying to create differences between the two communities.

Despite the calls by senior leaders and social activists, Dalits have held five rallies in Beed, Nanded, Jalna, Parbhani and Aurangabd, with each attracting over 2-3 lakh participants. And more rallies are being planned across the state.

Explaining the demands by Dalits, Rohidas Gaikwad, one of the members from the organising committee of the Dalit rallies, said, “The central government in January 2016 amended the SC/ST (PoA) Act making it tougher to tackle atrocities against Dalits. But the Maharashtra state government is yet to implement the amended law. We want the government to implement it. More than 2,500 cases of atrocities are pending at courts across the state. We want state government to try these cases in fast track courts by establishing special atrocity courts.”

Atrocities vs reservation: A 40-year-old crisis

All Ambedkarite organisations, nomadics, denotified, muslims, tribals and other vulnerable sections of the society are also participating in the Dalit rallies. The rallies are disciplined, peaceful and volunteers clean the roads once it’s over.

But the rallies are also supporting demands of other marginalised communities such as Muslims, nomadics, the denotified and tribals. The Dalit rallies, supported by Muslims, also demand 5% reservation for Muslims in education and employment. The rallies have also demanded to protect all vulnerable communities like nomadics, the denotified and tribals under the SC/ST (PoA) Act. They also want a special commission to be established for the welfare of cobbler community.

Baburao Potrabe another organiser of the Dalit rallies says that the Kopardi case is just a reason to demand removal of the latest amendments in the SC/ST (PoA) Act. “They want to pressurise the government with the number of participants. They want to suppress an already vulnerable section of the society,” he says.

The Maratha Kranti silent morchas have caused a lot of tension in Maharashtra politics. PTI

The Maratha Kranti silent morchas have caused a lot of tension in Maharashtra politics. PTI

Portrabe adds, “The Dalits also demand strict punishment for the accused in the Kopardi rape case. They also don’t have any issue with Marathas getting reservation. Then why are the Marathas holding rallies?”

However, according to political observer and senior journalist, Kumar Ketkar, the real issue of contention is the demand for reservation by Marathas and not SC/ST (PoA) Act, as perceived widely. “Dalits versus Maratha confrontation is 40 years old. But it became intense after the Mandal Commission in 1989 gave Kunabis, a section of Maratha community, reservation status under Other Backward Caste category. The move was opposed by Dalits and OBCs. And now the Kunabi community has also joined Marathas in the rallies. The SC/ST (PoA) Act is a camouflage as not many cases are filed against Marathas under the act,” he says.

Ketkar also informs that agricultural crisis is one of the main reasons behind the rallies. “The poor Marathas and small landholder Marathas have suffered hugely. The well-off Marathas and local capitalism flourished, but it also created unemployed Maratha youth and further marginalisation Dalits. However, while the Dalits have slight advantage of reservation, the Marathas don’t. So, it is a fight for a small cake which is getting smaller.”

Yadav vs Yadav: Political foes count gains and losses in UP as SP crumbles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As all eyes turn to the fierce feud within the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh’s political arena, its rivals –BSP and BJP– have started counting their gains and losses.In Mayawati’s BSP, the disarray in SP has infused fresh optimism, while BJP, which is waiting for the final scene of the SP story to unfold, has reason to be concerned and heartened. Both are banking on the anti-incumbency factor going in their favour. The BSP is eyeing Muslim consolidation, which can be a cause of worry for BJP even as it hopes to wean away some of SP’s backward class vote.A BSP leader said the developments have made the party a “more formidable player” as the credibility of the SP, which has not been able to contain a feud within, has been eroded.The SP’s arithmetic of Muslim and Yadav combination has also gone awry, according to BSP sources. They said Yadavs that constitute about 9% were in disarray and Muslims with little over 18% votes were looking at BSP as the only party that can stop BJP from coming to power.According to BSP, it’s fight was only with BJP. “This was evident from what PM Modi said in Mahoba today,” said a BSP source.BJP leaders are still persisting with the tactical line of claiming that the SP was the party’s main enemy, in a bid to send the message that BSP was not in the race. A party leader said BJP’s anti-incumbency plank has gained momentum with the feud within the SP, which has “weakened” it. Besides, it is eyeing votes of Kushwahas, Mauryas and Shakyas – non-Yadav OBCs– who may have got disillusioned with the SP. The OBCs constitute around 40 per cent of the population.”In Indian politics we have not seen such a turf war…. Now, some of its supporters will gravitate towards BJP,” said party general secretary Arun Singh.Party sources said in a triangular contest, it would require just 32 per cent to win. The BJP, which had swept UP in Lok Sabha elections, is hoping to reach out across caste lines by chanting development.According to Maulana Salman Nadvi of Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, the community was hoping for a Bihar like secular Grand Alliance in UP but with the SP plunging in chaos, the automatic choice would be Mayawati for Muslims.Nadvi, like many other Muslim leaders, suspects that the overall situation may favour the BJP unless BSP manages to unite majority of Dalit and Muslim voters and is also able to nibble at OBC votes.BSP insiders claim that the incidents of atrocities against Dalits and Muslims have emerged as a common factor that has brought the two communities together and will help the BSP to sweep UP polls. Dalits in UP constitute over 20% and with 18% Muslims can be a formidable combination.”This is why the BJP is trying hard to woo Dalits in different ways. But the series of incidents that took place in UP, Gujarat and Punjab are too fresh in the minds of Dalits to get swayed,” said sources.

Indian electorate ‘castes’ its common sense away: When will our priorities change?

Caste-based politics. The very phrase makes you want to look for a bucket and be ill in. The more we deny it the more it strides onto centrestage and takes over.

Indians just don’t seem to be given the opportunity to exercise franchise for good governance or the credit for voting for a right candidate. I would even go as far as to say we rob ourselves of this right with such pathetic ease.

Not because he or she is good for the job, but because we invariably marinate it in caste and communal syrup. I am reading about Rita Bahaguna Joshi’s departure from Congress to the BJP and it is being seen as a clever ploy to win the Brahmin vote.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

We are all party to this conspiracy. Politicians thrive on it. Media propels it with gay abandon and not even the least bit of concern that it perpetuates what it critiques with such indignation. The public takes the bait every single time and fragments like a grenade, allowing the shrapnel to divide and rule with a fervour that even the British could not match.

Seventy years down the road, caste politics thrive and run our lives. Take UP and the 2017 elections. The arithmetic in the break-up of the numbers is all caste-oriented.

Here are several statements on record.

The BJP wants alliances in eastern UP with the Janvadi Party so it can get the MBC castes, including Lonia, Nonia, Gole-Thakur, Lonia-Chauhan and Dhobhi to vote for it. The aim is to target the non-Jatav Dalit vote and the non-Yadav backward class vote.

The BSP wants to capture the Dalit-Brahmin bloc and the Dalit-Muslim alliance.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal has lost its base in the Jat-Muslim enclave after the Muzaffarnagar riots and is now an also-ran unless it links up with the SP to lure the Jat vote.

One can break all this up to an even further sickening level. For example, the BJP is believed to be wooing castes such as Maurya, Murav and Kachhi by naming Keshav Prasad Maurya as its State unit president. Whether Maurya, bless his little heart, is a good administrator or not is not even a factor in the distant horizon.

Who thinks of all this? There must be an affection for it that questions intellect but obtains legitimacy from its popularity. Caste counts.

And when will the priorities change?

The hypocrisy is breathtaking. And it is not just UP. The same nonsense is the icing on the Punjab cake, too. Mayawati attacked the SAD-BJP alliance as anti-Dalit, called Arvind Kejriwal a ‘baniya’ and this was par for the political course.

Today, the BSP is trumpeting a 10 percent reservation for poor upper castes (and that is not an oxymoron) in the hope of closing in on the leaders.

AAP is marking the Sikhs and backing reputed human rights activists HS Phoolka in the hope of lifting the scab on 1984 and making that wound bleed into votes.

The BJP will fall back on the Khatris, Aroras, and Banias who are mainstays of the Hindu segment. But it will also try to win back the 30 percent Dalit population that it has alienated with its cow protection hostility and violence.

Everyone now loves the Dalits, and AAP will also hope to sweep enough of them up into its fold.

The SAD hopes to keep the farmers on its side (they being traditional voters) but, as an incumbent party, have been hurt by the zeal of the BJP partnership that has declared a bovine war on Dalits.

Into the mix where Kejriwal might well break the pattern, comes cricketer-comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu with a promise to splinter the vote banks further as he shakes the current political tree.

You read all this and you think, are we that stupid or, worse, do these political entities and their spin doctors believe that the electorate is that stupid and can be emotionally manipulated with such consummate ease?

Yes, we can be that stupid. This is the saddest and most dispiriting response one can get and it is valid. We love caste, we espouse it, feed it, grow it insidiously in our minds and let its vines creep into our psyche and control our thoughts and actions.

Caste overwhelms every other consideration to an extent that we can only watch stupefied as this virus mutates and resists all treatments based on common sense and the fact that we all bleed red.

So sit back, rub the fur of your caste and admire our rampant stupidity.

India principal suspended after students assault Dalit pupil

Authorities in India suspend the principal of a school where a student was assaulted by his classmates allegedly because he scored well in school and came from the Dalit community.

‘My head hangs in shame’: PM Modi on Dalit atrocities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his “head hangs in shame” over incidents of atrocities on dalits that take place even after 70 years of Independence and called for more focused efforts to correct social anomalies.Citing the example of Guru Gobind Singh in raising his voice against casteism and untouchability, Modi said: “We know that due to our societal anomalies, hearing out some incidents targeting our Dalit brothers even today, my head hangs in shame. After 70 years of Independence, we cannot wait longer”. At the launch of a National SC/ST Hub here, he said: “We will have to sharpen the focus of our direction. The aspirations of a Dalit or an Adivasi exceed those of other youth in the country. If they get an opportunity they will not lag behind in changing the fortunes of India.” The Hub for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe will help Dalits and Adivasis become entrepreneurs so that they can provide jobs to others, he said.Modi also mentioned that under the Startup India, Standup India scheme, 1.25 lakh branches of nationalised banks in the country have been directed to sanction loans up to Rs 1 crore to at least one woman, and one person each belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories, adding that the move can help create 3.75 lakh such entrepreneurs. The National SC/ST Hub, under the MSME Ministry, was announced in the Budget. With an initial outlay of Rs 490 crore, the hub will work towards strengthening market access/ linkage, monitoring, capacity building, leveraging financial support schemes and sharing industry-best practices.It will also enable central public sector enterprises to fulfil the procurement target set by the government. The Public Procurement Policy 2012 stipulates that 4 per cent of procurement done by ministries, departments and CPSEs will have to be from enterprises owned by SC/ST entrepreneurs. “I have requested the state governments that 4 per cent should be procured from goods manufactured by Dalits to encourage them,” Modi said.The Prime Minister emphasised upon efforts to bring backward sections of the society into the centre of economic activity.

Some people wants us to become Hindu Pakistan: Ramchandra Guha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Famous historian and thinker Ramchandra Guha said Dalits and tribals deserve reservation but did not favour its benefits for Jats, Marathas and Patels, whom he dubbed as “prosperous” communities. In his brief interaction with media after his address at the 63rd Convocation at Gujarat Vidyapith , Guha also denounced attempts to abolish the reservation system. “I firmly believe that reservation for Dalits and tribals must continue,” he said when asked to share his views about the ongoing stirs by Jats, Marathas and Patel communities in various parts of the country pressing for reservation in educational institutes and government jobs.”There is no need for any review in reservation policy, as Dalits and tribals deserve reservation. Their issue is different from Jats, Marathas or Patels, who are prosperous,” he said.”The government can manage the reservation system by reviewing the creamy layer, but reservation should be there for Dalits and tribals,” he said. He also raised concerns about the violent protests by Jats and Patels. “You can hold an agitation, but there must not be any violence, such as setting fire to buses and vandalising shops.The method adopted by Jats in Haryana and Patels in Gujarat was improper,” said Guha. While addressing students at Gujarat Vidyapith, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, Guha said some section of people in India are trying to impose the Hindu ideology on the entire country and turn it into a “Hindu-Pakistan”, which is against the preachings of Gandhi.The historian said the country would have been in shambles but for its all-embracing approach. “Today, we live in a time of rising religious fundamentalism. India may have broken and may not have survived as a nation if we had gone the way of Pakistan, which is an Islamic country, where Hindus and Christians are treated as second class citizens,” Guha claimed. “Some people in India would like us to be a Hindu- Pakistan. But as long as Gandhiji’s memory is alive, that will not happen. We will remain a country committed to pluralism of religions and languages,” he added. The writer also raised the issue of unrest in Kashmir as well as Naxal-affected areas. “India is not a perfect democracy. There is deep discontent in some parts of the country. People of Kashmir as well as tribals have been treated very badly by the government of India,” he alleged. “Had Naxalites or Maoists practised non-violence, then they would have had more success. But once they picked up guns, the conflict escalated. Ordinary citizens are sandwiched in the armed conflict, which is true for Kashmir, Manipur or Bastar (in Chhattisgarh),” said Guha. Voices for caste-based reservations across the country have been gaining momentum over the past few months. The agitation related to demand of reservation for Jats in the OBC category at Rohtak claimed 30 lives in February.

Rift in Haryana Congress may hit Rahul’s Dalit outreach plan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Congress’ Haryana state President Ashok Tanwar coming out in the open against former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, ruptures in the state Congress are now staring at party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. Insiders in the party said the rift will have a cascading effect on the party’s fortunes in the neighbouring Punjab, which has a substantial Dalit population.Tanwar, one of the party’s top Dalit leaders and Rahul’s protégé, in an exclusive conversation with DNA, said he was facing threats to his life from the former CM, “who was out to demolish the party in the crucial state, neighbouring the national capital”.In his poll campaigns, Rahul has tried to reach out to the Dalits. To avoid any embarrassment to the party, last week, the high command was quick enough to form an inquiry committee under former minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Tanwar is yet to hear from Shinde and has very little hope in the findings of the committee. Instead, he has threatened to move court against Hooda.”So far, I have not heard anything from Shinde. To seek justice, I will now explore legal options,” said Tanwar. He further said this was not the first time that he had been attacked by Hooda supporters. “My life is under threat. I could have died or could have been paralysed for life. I am at risk,” said Tanwar, as he lay on the bed in his Delhi house.Meanwhile, the high command has received complaints from both Hooda and Tanwar, seeking expulsion of the other from the party.The clash concerned took place in Delhi on October 6, when Rahul was returning to Delhi after completing his month-long Kisan Yatra. Both Hooda and Tanwar supporters were part of the crowd waiting to welcome Rahul.According to Tanwar, he was hit with rods by Hooda’s security staff and supporters. He was immediately rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where he remained in the ICU for three days.As the news of his hospitalisation broke, senior party leaders queued up to see him. Starting from Rahul, party treasurer Motilal Vora, state in-charge Kamal Nath, senior leaders including Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Janardan Dwivedi and Randeep Surjewala paid Tanwar a visit in the hospital.Despite the who’s who of the Congress visiting him, Tanwar has little hope that he will get justice. “Soon after the assault, Surjewala gave a statement that both parties needed to introspect. There was no assurance of justice, whatsoever,” said Tanwar.Tanwar, who began his career from student union politics before moving up the Congress ladder, enjoys the support of the party Vice President, the Dalits in the state and some Jat members left disgruntled by Hooda.”For the last two years, I am trying to revive the party in Haryana. But people like Hooda do not want the revival. I am a potential threat to them,” he said. The leader also slammed Hooda for favouring BJP during ticket distribution in the previous Haryana Assembly election. “While giving out the tickets to contest the election, Hooda paved way for the BJP to win,” he added.Hooda, however, continues to enjoy more support in the state than Tanwar.For the party high command, it is a temporary phase. “We have formed a committee. Things will be decided after the committee submits its report,” said a party spokesperson.Meanwhile, Hooda supporters claimed they were attacked first by the Tanwar gang and they retaliated in defence. Despite several attempts, MP Deepender Hooda remained unavailable for comments

BJP’s Dhamma Chetna yatra a flop show, had RSS workers disguised as Dalits: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP chief Mayawati on Friday termed BJP’s ‘Dhamma Chetna’ yatra in Kanpur as a “flop show”, claiming that RSS workers disguised as Dalits participated in the programme. “Dhamma Chetna Yatra has been taken out by some ‘Baudh bhikshus’, who have been managed by the BJP…the party is using religion to make electoral and political gains,” she said in a release.Hitting out at BJP’s Dalit outreach programme, the BSP chief claimed that Dalits did not participate in the yatra, whose concluding session was addressed by BJP president Amit Shah in Kanpur on Friday.She said BJP and RSS workers were made to participate in the programme “projecting them as Dalits.” The ‘baudh bhikshus’ felicitated at the yatra were also the ones belonging to these organisations, the statement said. Mayawati said, “The BJP’s Dhamma yatra was similar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to do politics on a religious occasion like he did in Lucknow on Dussehra, in order to help his party which is in a very bad shape in the state”.The six-month long Dhamma Chetna Yatra concluded at Kanpur on Friday. Dalits, who have converted to Buddhism took part in the programme, where a few monks were also felicitated. The yatra is seen as yet another attempt by the BJP to reach out to the backward community in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

No one can lead UP better than BJP: Amit Shah targets Akhilesh, Mayawati at Kanpur rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyeing to conquer the throne of Lucknow after 15 years, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday came down heavily on his rivals in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and said neither the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) nor the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) can lead the state on the development path. “No one can lead Uttar Pradesh on the path of development other than the BJP,” Shah said while addressing a rally in Kanpur.Taking a jibe at the Samajwadi Party leadership over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, Shah advised Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav-led government to first handle the rift within the family and then think about managing the state. “The Samajwadi Government cannot tackle the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. I would like to say that a party which cannot handle its home how will it govern a state,” said Shah.Further taking on BSP supremo Mayawati, Shah dared her to disclose the assets which she held at the time of taking over as the party chief and her present possessions. “Mayawati claims that if she wins in UP then she would rectify the law and order situation and put an end to corruption. I would like to ask her to disclose the assets she and her brother had when Kashiram ji had handed over the responsibility of the party to her and the assets she holds now,” said Shah.The BJP president also used the occasion to reach out to the Dalit community. “It was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has put the portrait of Baba Sahib Ambedkar in the Parliament and not Mayawati or Congress,” he said. “No one can take care of the Dalits neither the SP not the BSP. It is only the BJP, which will work for betterment of Dalits, poor and the marginalised,”he added.

UP polls: Amit Shah to address Dalits, OBCs at Buddhist event in Kanpur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP chief Amit Shah will attend a Buddhist event on Friday which will witness large presence of Dalits who have converted to Buddhism, seen as yet another attempt by the party to reach out to the community in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Shah will attend the closing ceremony of the six-month long Dhamma Chetna Yatra at Palika Stadium and felicitate 110 monks at the event. Kanpur BJP president Surendra Maithani said the Yatra, which was held in Uttar Pradesh, will reach Kanpur tomorrow. 30,000 people are expected to participate in the event. “The programme aims at reaching out to the Dalit community and understanding the problems faced by them,” he added. Maithani said the Yatra is not related to the upcoming elections in the state. “Shah is expected to arrive at Palika Stadium around 11 AM where he will address the crowd,” he said. A big stage has been set up in the stadium for the event which will also be attended by state BJP leaders, he said.

Effigy burning row: NSUI warns of nationwide protests if action is taken after JNU probe

New Delhi: The student wing of the Congress party, NSUI, on Thursday warned of country-wide protests if any action was taken against it for burning an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 11 October.

Representational image. Firstpost/Tarique Anwar

Representational image. Firstpost/Tarique Anwar

“We will launch country-wide protests if any action is taken against us after the probe. We have done nothing wrong,” NSUI leader Sunny Dhiman told IANS.

On 11 October, Dhiman along with other students had burned a multi-headed effigy at the Sabarmati Dhaba inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus.

The effigy’s heads featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sadhvi Prachi, BJP President Amit Shah, Asaram Bapu and Nathuram Godse, besides others.

A probe was ordered on Wednesday by the JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar.

“The effigy burning incident at JNU was brought to our notice. We are investigating the matter and examining all relevant information,” the university head had tweeted.

One of the heads on the effigy depicted the Vice Chancellor.

“The Vice Chancellor is indulging in witch-hunting of Dalits and Muslims, instead of protecting their rights,” Dhiman told IANS, while confirming that although the probe was ordered but no notice was served.

“No one raised any objection when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s effigy was burned. They are selectively targeting us this time,” the NSUI leader said.

He said that effigy-burning is a routine affair in JNU.

“We chose the day of Vijayadashami as it was on this day that BR Ambedkar adopted Buddhism and RSS was founded. We wanted to give them (BJP) a message that their discriminatory politics – Gau-Raksha politics will not work anymore,” he said.

“Why do we need permission for any protests? This is not North Korea but a democratic country,” Dhiman added.

There are a few other students who were issued notices in the past for effigy burning, but NSUI was not involved then.

Uttar Pradesh polls 2017: Mayawati is the idol of ‘corruption’, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday came down heavily on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to fulfil his poll promises and alleged that latter who has been selling her party tickets for money has no right to question working of the saffron party.BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said the BSP chief is considered as the idol of corruption in Uttar Pradesh. “Mayawati cannot question any other party especially not the BJP. Today inmates of the BSP, who had quit from the party, are pointing fingers at Mayawati, Many leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya ji, R.K. Chaudhary ji have alleged that Mayawati sells tickets for money. Mayawati is considered as a idol of corruption in Uttar Pradesh,” said Singh.Speaking in the same tune, Uttar Pradesh BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya said that Mayawati was finished in 2014 and added that her expected trial of 2017 will be a massive failure.”Mayawati was finished in 2014. She is trying for 2017 but her trail will prove of no use. People left the BSP because she has sold the votes of Dalits and the poor for becoming rich,” said Maurya.”Her game is over. She is just over anxious. There is too much chaos in her party. The condition of SP and BSP is such that nobody wants to be with them,” he added.Mayawati on Sunday lashed out at Prime Minister Modi, saying that the Central Government has not fulfilled even one fourth of its poll promises made during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. She also attacked the state government led by Akhilesh Yadav describing it as a government of goons and mafias.Addressing a rally of party workers organised to commemorate the tenth death anniversary of Kanshi Ram in Lucknow, Mayawati accused the Centre of being bias towards religious minorities and Dalits.Asserting that atrocities on Dalits and Muslims are rampant in the states led by BJP, she called upon the gathering to bring the BSP to power.

Atrocities Act can’t be repealed, can consider amendment: Ramdas Athawale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 can’t be repealed, Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale said on Saturday his ministry was not averse to consider an amendment to the act. “The act was passed by the Parliament after a thorough debate and discussion and the idea was to prevent atrocities on the Dalits. The police were given a free hand to deal with those cases,” Athawale said.However, with a section of the society seeking its repeal, his ministry is ready to consider an amendment to the act, the Dalit leader and RPI president said at a press conference in Nagpur. Repealing the act will not be possible and justified under any circumstances, he added, while accepting that the act should not be used to harass innocent people.The politically dominant Maratha community is taking out huge ‘silent marches’ all over Maharashtra, demanding repeal of the Atrocities Act, apart from reservations. When asked whether it would be desirable to amend the act when some Dalits were demanding that it be strengthened further, Athawale said the cases under the act should be investigated properly and conviction rate must improve.On demand of quota for Marathas, he said in view of similar demand from Patels, Jats, etc., the ceiling of 50% imposed by the Supreme Court on the total reserved seats can be increased to 75% by passing a law in the Parliament. RPI was going to hold a joint convention of Marathas and Dalits at Shirdi on October 19, he said.

Jawaharlal Nehru, as an individual, was a genuine secularist: Nalini Rajan

Nalini Rajan has written about and taught democracy, secularism and identity issues. She is the dean of studies at the Asian College Of Journalism. Here she talks about secularism, Nehru and the complexities that have in the past proven that it is not as easily implementable as it may be definable. Her book, The Story of Secularism: 15th-21st Century, has recently been published.

Nalini RajanNalini Rajan

Nalini Rajan

Has the idea of ‘Indian secularism’ succumbed to the very characteristics it has boasted of keeping together – pluralism? Is that one of the biggest challenges facing the idea, one that struggles between a proportional approach (Hindu dominated population) or a flat-denomination approach (where even a one-man religion may sustain)?

Has secularism succumbed to pluralism?  I wouldn’t put it that way, because I believe that almost all states and societies are pluralistic today, in one way or the other — and that’s a positive thing.  Pluralism [though], then, poses challenges to secularism. But as I have shown in my book, it does so almost everywhere — in the USA, in France, and in India.

France’s struggle and near capitulation over the past few centuries is indicative of something. But is a ‘Laïcité-like’ secularism not possible in India?  When there are entirely too many elements to consider, wouldn’t an evasive politics work or can at least be tried? What do you think?

France faces challenges to secularism or ‘Laïcité’ because of its inability to deal with its Maghrebian population, the majority of whom belong to the Islamic faith. Laïcité worked in France till the 1950s, as long as it had a largely Judaeo-Christian population.  The problem with Laïcité is that it does not easily lend itself to adaptability over time. As far as India is concerned, I would call for a principled, contextual, negotiated position of secularism, rather than for ‘evasive politics’ as you call it. In fact, evasive politics is what has been followed in India since the Nehruvian epoch.

Nehru is remembered, and now re-eulogised for his secular ideas. What were his successes and failures according to you?

I believe that as an individual, Jawaharlal Nehru was a genuine secularist. As a Prime Minister, however, he did little beyond calling for ‘a scientific temper’ among the citizenry, or promoting films that criticised religious superstition like Satyajit Ray’s Devi. By adopting a policy of benign neglect, a government can hardly expect people to miraculously become secular on their own!  But even so, Nehru had far more integrity as a secularist as compared to his daughter or his grandson, or indeed any other Indian Prime Minister.

One of the more elaborate ideas put forth in the book is that of the secular triangle with the State, Religion and the Individual as its vertices. You say that it is important to keep the triangle in whatever shape or form. While the French have tried to distance religion from the state, over the years in India, the two have come closer. Is that why we exist in a religion-as-ideology, or the nation-state era? Are those two vertices now too close for comfort, perhaps even inseparable? What are the risks then?

secular-trianglesecular-triangle

In the book, I talk about the ‘secular triangle’, with its three axes of state neutrality, freedom of religion, and equal citizenship. The problem today is that all three axes are in jeopardy.  Democracy itself is in danger, when we do not treat all our citizens equally.  If people cannot eat what they want, or dress the way they want, or pray the way they want, or even love whom they want, we cannot exist as a modern secular democracy. We are at risk of becoming a communally violent state and society.

If secularism treats all religions as equal, how does it address the issue of practice (some are different than the other)? Most religions, as you mention are patriarchal in nature, and therefore is a uniform civil code more of a necessity (to flatten the landscape) to establish humanism before it establishes a person’s religion?

Yes, I do believe that practice can be different.  At the same time, I believe that — even within one religion — there can be a huge variation in terms of practices.  For the sake of expediency, we say ‘Hinduism’, ‘Islam’, or ‘Christianity’, as if all these labels are mutually exclusive.  Yet a lot of people have seen themselves (and some continue to do so) as ‘Hindu-Muslims’ or ‘Hindu-Christians’.  I will concede, however, that almost all religious practice is patriarchal, and bringing in gender justice (perhaps in the form of a uniform civil code that would be acceptable to women) would be a way of re-appropriating our humanity.

A question that most people with secular ideas or theories fail to answer is that of atheism. How do you fit atheists in any of the secular triangles which no longer even look like a triangle? Is that also indicative of how religion grants privilege (by way of having the extra vertex and thereby a way to engage the state)?

If you look closely at the images of the secular triangle in the book, you will notice that the axis, ‘Freedom of Religion’, has ‘Religion’ at one end, and ‘Individual/Group’ at the other.  What this demonstrates is the following:  Freedom of Religion implies the group’s freedom to believe in any religion or cult and the individual’s freedom not to believe in any religion or cult.  That is how the atheist or agnostic is included in the secular triangle.  Of course the other part of the triangle is about the relationship between Religion and the State.  State Neutrality is admittedly a tricky question in India, because of Constitutional provisions like Articles 17, 25(2), and 30(2) that call for active state intervention in religious affairs. Here is where the state should take a contextual and principled stance (to which I refer in one of your earlier questions, with respect to judicial cases concerning state neutrality.

8th February 1947: Indian statesman Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964, facing camera) attends a meeting of the Constituent Assembly in the Council House Library, New Delhi, to decide on the constitution of the newly independent India. Nehru was to serve as prime minister of India from this time until his death in 1964. Original Publication: Picture Post - 4325 - India: The Last Chance - pub. 1947 (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)8th February 1947: Indian statesman Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964, facing camera) attends a meeting of the Constituent Assembly in the Council House Library, New Delhi, to decide on the constitution of the newly independent India. Nehru was to serve as prime minister of India from this time until his death in 1964. Original Publication: Picture Post - 4325 - India: The Last Chance - pub. 1947 (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)

Says Nalini Rajan, “I believe that as an individual, Jawaharlal Nehru was a genuine secularist. As a Prime Minister, however, he did little beyond calling for ‘a scientific temper’ among the citizenry.” Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images

The school years and childhood are when most people get inducted into religion by instruction and do not necessarily arrive by choice. Can we perhaps address that in some way? Does our discourse even allow that? What has your experience been as a teacher?

This is a tricky question, because it refers to the differentiation between ‘freedom of conscience’ and ‘freedom of choice’ as delineated by the American philosopher, Michael Sandel.  As far as most people are concerned, religious faith is not a matter of choice.  They are born into one or other faith, and they conduct their worship and other rites, accordingly. These people demand that the state give them the freedom to follow the religious dictates of their conscience. But there are others who want the freedom to change their faith or religion, and therefore want the state to allow them the freedom of choice for religious conversion. As a teacher, I can only say that both these freedoms are important and the state should honour them.

Finally, you say in the book that Dalits and people belonging to lower castes will carry the baton of secularism, and stand to gain from modern secularism in India. Could we then say that instances like Una, now Maharashtra etc are the face of modern secularism in India? Are we inching closer to whatever the idea of ‘Indian secularism’ is?

In a hierarchical society guided by the dogmas of caste, it is very hard to achieve the ideal of equal citizenship.  As long as the upper castes practise endogamous marriages, and believe in their own superiority, and refuse to acknowledge the fact that their privileges have a long lineage, it would be difficult to see them as the guardians of a secular democracy.  Dalits and other lower castes and tribes have a far greater stake in equality and in secular modernity.  After all, these are the values they are fighting for in Una and elsewhere.  Thanks to their struggles, are we inching closer to the idea of secularism?  I very much hope so!

Gandhi a racist, say Ghana university academics; govt wants to relocate statue

Was Gandhi a racist?

That’s the question the Ghana government is basing its decision on, to relocate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi off a university campus, after professors launched a petition claiming that he was “racist”.

The institution in question is the University of Ghana and interestingly enough, the statue was unveiled in June at the campus in Accra by President Pranab Mukherjee, symbolising a close tie between the two countries.

A petition was launched in September by a group of professors who called for the removal of the statue. They said that Gandhi was racist and besides, the university should be giving importance to “African heroes and heroines, first and foremost”.

“It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power,” said the petition, which quotes passages written by Gandhi that say Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans.

A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Professors at a university in Ghana's capital are campaigning for the removal of a new statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.(AP Photo/Christian Thompson)A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Professors at a university in Ghana's capital are campaigning for the removal of a new statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.(AP Photo/Christian Thompson)

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana. Image from AP

Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that it has followed the controversy with “deep concern” and that it wants to relocate the statue. “The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy,” it said.

“While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve,” said the ministry, emphasising that Ghana and India have “championed the struggle for the liberation of oppressed peoples around the world”.

“Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws.” This is just one of the many sentences that have egged on the debate of Gandhi’s legacy.

In an interview with Gouri Chatterjee for Firstpost, Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, perhaps one of the very few to have explored the Mahatma’s life in great detail, said that “Gandhi was a racist”, but only in 1983 when he “first reached South Africa”. It would be pertinent to note that Gandhi was in his early 20s and filled with the prejudice of “his Indian and British upbringing. He then thought Africans inferior to Indians and whites, and said so in public,” according to Guha.

As Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs then insightfully notes, Guha echoes a similar viewpoint: that people gradually overcome their prejudices and flaws and that Gandhi

slowly shed these prejudices. He came to appreciate the quality of African life, to admire their moral sense, and the beauty of their languages and culture. By about 1908 or so, he was advocating the equality of all races.

However, Guha was quick to point out that Gandhi’s views changed after he returned to India, asking Indians in South Africa to unite with the Africans against the white regime. The historian said that those who still consider Gandhi a racist are those who are “cherry-picking from Gandhi’s own writings” and those who are “judging the 19th century by the canons and values of the 21st century”.

Those in Ghana or elsewhere who damn Gandhi as a racist are misguided and misinformed. That said, I do not think the Government of India should be funding and installing statues of Gandhi in other countries. That is patronising; besides, would it not be better for the Government to honour and practice Gandhian principles at home?

Ambedkar_AFPAmbedkar_AFP

Ambedkar is the icon when it comes to emancipating Dalits, not Gandhi. Image from AFP

Perhaps the South African academics do have a point. Soutik Biswas, writing for the BBC, says that the authors of The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire (also South African academics, but of Indian origin) believe so. The duo spent seven years researching for the book and observe that Gandhi was unconcerned about the plight of the Africans, held a firm belief that power should be with the whites and also addressed the Africans as ‘kaffirs’, which is a derogatory term.

The duo wrote that Gandhi, in 1904, wrote to a Johannesburg health officer, feeling quite strongly about the mingling of the “Kaffirs with the Indians”, referring to a slum known as ‘Coolie Location’.

Another BBC report mentioned that the hashtag #Ghandimustfall was being circulated on social media in South Africa, during April 2015, as was a statute vandalised by a group bearing placards that read: Racist Gandhi must fall.

But before we look outwards, we must look into our own backyard first.

The Dalit movement, which is gaining momentum in the country, has given fuel to the debate of Ambedkar vs Gandhi. The debate isn’t a new one though, as Arundhati Roy wrote in The Caravan, in a long-winding essay titled, The doctor and the saint.

Both men were their generation’s emissaries of a profound social, political and philosophical conflict that had begun long ago and has still by no means ended… Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally.

Even though Gandhi famously campaigned against untouchability — professor Mridula Mukherjee, who criticises Roy’s view, was quoted by The Guardian as saying that Gandhi devoted his life to fighting prejudice, and being a social reformer bringing about social transformation — it’s Ambedkar we look to when we talk about caste annihilation. (It’s a shame that Tamil Nadu’s own EV Ramaswamy Naicker, popularly known as Periyar, is lesser known, even though he was Ambedkar’s contemporary. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Guha, in the interview to Chatterjee, has a fitting reply to why when it comes to emancipating the Dalits — who have politically suppressed and culturally oppressed and marginalised in India — Ambedkar is the icon and not Gandhi. He says,

It is just and inevitable that Ambedkar should be the great icon of the young Dalits today. He was their emancipator. At the same time, it is a mistake to discount Gandhi’s own lifelong fight against caste discrimination. Upper caste Indians should take inspiration from it, since caste prejudice is still so prevalent today.

— With inputs from AFP

Rohith Vemula’s death due to ‘personal frustration’, not discrimination, says judiciary panel report

The one-man judicial commission set up to probe the circumstances that lead to Rohith Vemula’s suicide has submitted its report stating that Vemula’s mother “branded” herself a Dalit only to obtain the caste benefits, and that the Hyderabad University’s decision to expel Vemula from hostel was “most reasonable”.

The 41-page-report, accessed by The Indian Expressreportedly puts the varsity authorities in the clear stating that the disciplinary actions taken by the administration were “not politically motivated” and that personal frustration, not discrimination led to Vemula’s suicide. The report further hands out a clean chit to Union ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, who it was alleged put undue pressure on the university to act against Vemula, stating that they were “merely discharging their duties as public servants”.

Rohith Vemula. Twitter profileRohith Vemula. Twitter profile

Rohith Vemula. Twitter profile

The one-man committee, constituted 11 days after Vemula’s suicide by the then Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani to probe Vemula’s death, is based on the deposition of close to 50 people, most of whom are University staff and teachers, according to The Indian Express.

The report compiled and submitted by the former Allahabad High Court judge AK Roopanwal dismissed the allegations that Vemula was driven to suicide or faced any discrimination, according to The Quint. It came to the conclusion citing a five-day-gap between the nine-member proctorial committee’s report advising that strict action be taken against Vemula on ABVP student leader’s complaint and the letter written by Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya to HRD minister Smriti Irani requesting strict action against Vemula.

Who was Rohith Vemula?

Rohith Vemula was a 26-year-old PhD scholar at the Hyderabad University, who committed suicide on 17 January, 2016, after he and four other students were suspended from the college hostel following a disciplinary action initiated by the University administration on the complaint of a ABVP student leader lodged in August. The ABVP student had alleged that Vemula and other members of the the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) had roughed him up and demanded an apology for posting an ‘angry’ Facebook post, after the ASA protested against the hanging of Yakub Memon. After the ABVP leader’s complaint, the University’s proctorial board launched an enquiry into the matter and recommended strict action against Vemula and others.

The research scholars, following this, were expelled from their hostel in December. They were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus, except their classroom, library and conferences and workshops related to their subject of study. They were evicted from their rooms in January and since then they were forced to sleep in a makeshift tent on the campus. It is this committee report that the Roopanwal commission drew from, in assuming that the disciplinary action was recommended five days before Dattatreya wrote a letter to the HRD ministry, hence ruling out the possibility of political interference. The judiciary panel probe report also observes that it is highly unlikely that all nine members of the proctorial committee will come under political pressure when none of them were directly under any of the ministers, according to The Quint.

Why is Vemula’s caste important?

Ever since Vemula committed suicide his caste identity has been mired in mystery and has been at the eye of the storm. One reason for it could be that if it is established that Vemula was a Dalit and was led to suicide due to discrimination, then legal action against all accused, including Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad university Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile will be taken as per the more stringent SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act.

If found guilty, not only will the quantum of punishment be stringent, but according to the new law, there is a presumption to the offence clause in the act according to which the court may assume that the accused was aware of the victim’s caste identity unless proved otherwise.

Vemula’s caste has been mired in controversy as his father was a Vaddera (OBC) and his mother, who is separated from his father and brought Vemula up considers herself a Mala (SC). According to a report in Hindustan TimesVemula’s mother was apparently a Mala by birth and was adopted into a Vaddera family. She was thereafter married to a Vaddera but after the couple seperated after marriage, she went back to assume her Mala identity.

The report compiled and submitted by the former Allahabad High Court judge AK Roopanwal dismissed the allegations that Vemula was driven to suicide or faced any discrimination

A probe was launched by the HRD ministry into the caste identity of Vemula and contrasting evidence have surfaced thus far. First, a report published in The Hindu on 15 June states that the Guntur district collector heading the enquiry into Vemula’s caste has stated that he was a Dalit. However, later the collector in a U-turn stated that a fresh probe is needed to determine his caste as it is shrouded in ‘ambiguity.’

The Roopanwal commission has however is of the view that Vemula’s mother “branded” herself a Dalit to avail the benefits of reservations. The commission questioned that Vemula’s adoptive grandmother never revealed his mother’s biological parents’ identity so how can she be sure about their caste, according to The Indian Express report.

However, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman PL Punia on Thursday rejected the reported finding of the Roopanwal Commission that Rohith Vemula did not belong to the SC community as “totally wrong“. NCSC chairman said the statutory body and the district collector have, in separate reports, found that the Hyderabad Central University research scholar belonged to the Dalit community, and not Other Backward Class (OBC).

However, according to a PTI report, HRD ministry sources have earlier said that in its recommendations, the Roopanwal commission has also emphasised that there should be proper grievance redressal mechanisms, equal opportunity cells so that unfortunate incidents like Vemula’s suicide can be prevented.

“The government will focus that those recommendations are implemented that will ensure that proper mechanisms are in place,” a source said.

The government will not go into those aspects of the report which were not in the commission’s terms of reference including determination of Vemula’s caste, sources added.

It is also understood that in the report, the commission has held that Vemula could not be held to be a Dalit. However, sources maintained that the ministry would focus on implementation of recommendations and prefer not go into aspects like determination of Vemula’s caste.

Reservation based on caste should be scrapped, says Raj Thackeray; praises Maratha’s ‘disciplined’ marches

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday said reservation based on the caste should be scrapped. “Reservation based on the caste should be scrapped. The reservation should be given only for the economically backward. Whenever I get the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), I will request him to give reservation to those who are economically backward irrespective of the caste,” Raj said while addressing a gathering.He alleged that former Prime Minister V P Singh was the “culprit” who brought in the reservation system and “poisoned” the country.Meanwhile, he praised the Maratha community for taking out “disciplined” protest marches across the state.”Such ‘morchas’ (protest marches) were never taken out in the country and the state,” he added.The MNS chief also took a jibe at Congress-NCP asking why no reservation was given to the community when the two parties were in power.The members of the Maratha community are taking out protest marches to press for their demands which include stern action against the culprits of Kopardi rape and murder case, reservations for the community and scrapping of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.The silent marches began after the alleged rape and murder of a Maratha girl by some Dalits youths at Kopardi in July.Congress-NCP ruled Maharashtra from 1999-2014.

Maharashtra govt faces demands from Maratha, Muslim and Dalit communities

The politically-dominant Maratha community has been holding marches in various cities across Maharashtra in the last month.

Their demands include stern action against the culprits of the Kopardi rape and murder case, reservations for their community, and the scrapping of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

According to The Indian Express report, the BJP-led Maharashtra government is set to recommend to the Centre that changes to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act be made. This is to ensure that the law is not ‘misused’ according to the Marathas, who are demanding it.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, the state government is also asserting that they want to ensure that the rights of the Dalits are not compromised.

Sources for The Indian Express say that Maharashtra government will propose a preliminary verification that should be carried out by the police, before the individual is charged under the Act.

“A group of ministers, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has started the process of addressing the demands — not just of Marathas but also of Dalits and OBCs, who are growing increasingly apprehensive in the face of the Maratha show of might,” The Indian Express reported.

Dalit protest in Latur

Dalits have also taken to the streets to mobilise the community against the dilution of the law, in a counter attempt. On Wednesday, crowds protested on the streets of Latur, demanding strict implementation of the Atrocities Act.

The march started at Ambedkar Square and various activists from AIMIM joined in. The march concluded after submitting a memorandum to the district collector, reported Hindustan Times.

“We are not against the Maratha community. We want to get justice for the Dalits,” said Vinod Khatake, a Dalit activist, instrumental in mobilising the community, reported Hindustan Times.

Muslims join in

Joining the pitch for quota, the Muslim community has also made demands for reservations in government jobs. This demand was backed by Maratha leaders who praised the community for supporting the Maratha Kranti Morcha by extending help to silent marches and voluntarily joining the marches at different places.

Ajay Bhosale of the Sambhaji Brigade, told The Indian Express that like the Maratha community, Muslims too have a large section that is poor and struggling to get jobs. He said that this is because they have no reservations. He said that the Marathas will support the demands of the Muslim community and that the government should hold a discussion with the community.

On the 10-year anniversary of the Khairlanji massacre, the Maratha agitation is gaining momentum

This Thursday, ten years will have passed since the Khairlanji massacre where Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, a Dalit, lost his family in a village in Maharashtra. On 29 September 2006, Bhotmange, 61, went to work on his farm near the village, and when he came back, he found his wife Surekha, 45, daughter Priyanka, 17, sons Sudhir and Roshan, 21 and 19, murdered by a mob. The massacre enraged Dalits, who took to the streets for a wide-spread silent protest, which soon got aggressive.

The 10-year anniversary of the incident coincides with the Maratha-Kunbi movement for abrogation of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act which was triggered by the rape of a girl by Dalits in Kopardi in July. Rallies held by lakhs of people in absolute silence have been going on across Maharashtra for more than a month.

This Thursday, the Maratha movement reminds us of that fateful evening of 29 September.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Khairlanji massacre

On 28 September 2006, Surekha, Bhaiyyalal’s wife had lodged a complaint against the participants in an assault on the village policeman, another Dalit, Siddharth Gajbhiye. The accused were members of the politically dominant Kunbi caste who had received the OBC status by the Maharashtra government in 2001.

The day after the complaint was lodged, the accused were arrested but soon let off on bail after which they returned to the village and lynched the Bhotmange family.

For three hours that evening, as Bhaiyyalal was on his farm, a group of villagers surrounded the hut where the family lived, then abused, assaulted, and killed the four people. There were allegations that the women in the family were raped, however the CBI investigations concluded that they weren’t.

That evening when Bhaiyyalal came home, he saw his dead family.

The incident wasn’t picked up by the media immediately. However as the Dalits of the state started a widespread movement seeking justice, the details of the incident came to light. This incident triggered one of the most prominent Dalit movement.

In September 2008, six people, who were charged with wiping out the Dalit family, were given death sentence for the crime by the specially appointed Fast Track trial court.

However in July 2010, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court in the case disappointing large sections of the Dalit community as they, on appeal, commuted the death sentence on the grounds that it was “not the rarest of the rare cases” warranting the death penalty. The court modified the life terms of the accused and gave them 25-year imprisonment.

The judges presiding on the case ruled that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was not applicable to the Khairlanji case. In their view there was no caste angle to the case. The panel who heard the appeal held that the murders of Surekha, Priyanka, Sudhir and the visually challenged Roshan was not motivated by caste prejudice; it was a case of “revenge killing.”

According to an editorial by The Hindu, the caste profile of the Khairlanji village in Bhandara district was relevant to the case as the Other Backward caste (OBC) people formed a majority of the village. The village was known for its prejudice against Dalits.

The case is currently being presided over by the Supreme court and Bhaiyyalal hopes that he gets justice. Each year the Dalit-Buddhist organisations light candles on the spot where the family once lived. Today the hut is gone but Bhaiyyalal keeps the iron cot as a reminder of the events that occurred.

The Maratha agitation

In the past two months, the Maratha community has taken out various silent marches in Maharashtra in cities like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Amravati, etc. demanding justice in the rape and murder of a girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district two months ago.

On 13 July, a 15-year-old Maratha girl was allegedly gang raped and murdered by four Dalit youths who inflicted injuries all over her body. They allegedly broke her limbs too before throttling her at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar.

The incident had sparked public outrage as well as a political slug-fest, with the Congress demanding Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ resignation on “moral grounds”.

After the gang-rape, Maratha Kranti silent morchas were held in Akola, Nanded, Beed, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Jalna districts.

Apart from demanding death penalty for the accused, the Maratha community leaders pressed for scrapping of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), saying it is grossly misused, and also raised other demands like quota in education and jobs.

As pointed out in a previous Firstpost report, the entire Dalit community of Kopardi village wanted death penalty for the accused an yet they weren’t allowed to be part of the protest. This has raised questions over the legitimacy of the intentions of the protests.

The situation today

The two incidents of murder have triggered responses from the two communities — Dalit and Maratha. After brutal incidents such as Kopardi incident, the Dadri lynching (where a family was massacred for allegedly consuming beef), the Una incident (where four youth were canned for carrying cow carcasses), and the Rohit Vemula case (where a Dalit scholar of the Hyderabad University committed suicide after being suspended), tempers are fraying and it remains to be seen which, if any community recieves justice.

Gujarat: Dalit family, including pregnant woman, beaten up for not disposing cow carcass

Palanpur: A Dalit family, including a pregnant woman, was allegedly assaulted at Karja village in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district after the members refused to dispose of a cow carcass, police said on Sunday.

Six persons were arrested under the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, police added.

According to the FIR lodged by Nilesh Ranwasia, a group of around 10 people from Darbar community attacked his family including his pregnant wife Sangeeta on Saturdaynight after the family refused to dispose of the carcass.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Six persons, including Sangeeta and two other women, sustained injuries.

While Sangeeta was admitted to Palanpur civil hospital, Nilesh and others who had minor injuries were discharged after first aid, police said.

Police immediately rushed to the village and within hours six accused were arrested, Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Neeraj Badgujar said.

The arrested persons were identified as Batawarsinh Chauhan (26), Maknusinh Chauhan (21), Yogisinh Chauhan (25), Bavarsinh Chauhan (45), Dilvirsinh Chauhan (23) and Naredrasinh Chauhan (23).

As tension prevailed in the village, police tightened security and intensified patrolling, Badgujar said.

“We have provided protection to the Dalit families in the village and are doing our best to maintain peace and harmony among various communities,” he said.

Protests had roiled Gujarat recently after some Dalit youths were beaten up at Una by cow vigilantes. In the aftermath of the incident, the community pledged not to skin dead cows, a traditional occupation of a section of Dalits.

Ahmedabad: Dalit pregnant woman thrashed for refusing to dispose cow carcass

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A Dalit family, including a pregnant woman, was allegedly assaulted at Karja village in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district after the members refused to dispose of a cow carcass, police said on Saturday.Six persons were arrested under the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, police added.According to the FIR lodged by Nilesh Ranwasia, a group of around 10 people from Darbar community attacked his family including his pregnant wife Sangeeta last night after the family refused to dispose of the carcass.Six persons including Sangeeta and two other women sustained injuries.While Sangeeta was admitted to Palanpur civil hospital, Nilesh and others who had minor injuries were discharged after first aid, police said.Police immediately rushed to the village and within hours six accused were arrested, Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Neeraj Badgujar said.The arrested persons were identified as Batawarsinh Chauhan (26), Maknusinh Chauhan (21), Yogisinh Chauhan (25), Bavarsinh Chauhan (45), Dilvirsinh Chauhan (23) and Naredrasinh Chauhan (23). As tension prevailed in the village, police tightened security and intensified patrolling, Badgujar said. “We have provided protection to the Dalit families in the village and are doing our best to maintain peace and harmony among various communities,” he said. Protests had roiled Gujarat recently after some Dalit youths were beaten up at Una by cow vigilantes. In the aftermath of the incident, the community pledged not to skin dead cows, a traditional occupation of a section of Dalits.

Maratha Kranti silent morchas: All you need to know about the protests which shook Maharashtra

The Maratha community, a dominant force in Maharashtra politics, has been taking out silent marches in various towns in the state over the last one month, following the rape and murder of a girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district two months ago.

On Wednesday, members of the Maratha community took out another such morcha in Navi Mumbai. In a show of strength, thousands marched from Kharghar to the office of the Konkan Divisional Commissioner.

The Maratha Kranti silent morchas have caused a lot of tension in Maharashtra politics. PTI

The Maratha Kranti silent morchas have caused a lot of tension in Maharashtra politics. PTI

A similar protest was planned for Thursday in Amravati. Nearly five lakh community members were expected to take part in that protest.

The protests may be ‘silent’ morchas but they have still caused a kind of tension in Maharashtra which, according to many journalists, has not been seen in the state since it was formed in 1960.

Kopardi gangrape and murder — The trigger

On 13 July, a 15-year-old Maratha girl was allegedly gang raped and murdered by four Dalit youths who inflicted injuries all over her body and broke her limbs before throttling her at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar.

“The incident took place on 13 July between 6.45 pm and 7.30 pm when the victim was returning after meeting her grandfather. She was accosted by three accused who gangraped her violently before throttling her to death. Her both shoulders were found to be dislocated,” Ahmednagar district Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tripathi had told PTI.

Reports had also said that the flesh from all over the victim’s body, including her genitals, were torn. Her hair had been pulled out, hands were dislocated from the shoulders, her teeth were smashed and she was strangled to death after rape.

The incident had sparked public outrage as well as a political slugfest, with the Congress demanding Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ resignation on “moral grounds”.

The protests and the demands

After the gangrape, Maratha Kranti silent morchas were held in Akola, Nanded, Beed, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Jalna districts over the last one month. They had received huge response, forcing all political parties to take note of the community’s grievances.

Three lakh people had taken part in the morchas in Beed and Osmanabad, according to The Asian Age.

On Wednesday’s march in Navi Mumbai, the ‘Muk Morcha’, which began from the Central Park at Kharghar in Raigadh district, wended its way through the highway before culminating at the Konkan Bhavan at Belapur.

Unmindful of heavy downpour, the protesters, clad in black and carrying saffron flags, walked the 6-km stretch. A delegation of five girls, who were part of the march, later met Konkan Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh and submitted a memorandum on behalf of the Sakal Maratha Samaj, demanding strict action against the culprits in the rape case.

Apart from demanding death penalty for the accused, the Maratha community leaders have been pressing for scrapping of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), saying it is grossly misused, and also raised other demands like quota in in education and jobs.

Five lakh people were expected to take part in the morcha in Amravati on Thursday. “The morcha is not against any caste but against the tendency involved in Kopardi case,” the organisers had said at a press conference.

The real reason behind the protests

According to this article in The Indian Express by Bhalchandra Mungekar, over 150 crimes against Dalits, including some brutal murders, were committed just in Ahmadnagar district in the last four to five years.

“Yet, not a word of protest was uttered by any section of society in the state, let alone the Maratha community, other than the Dalits. This once again underlines that community sensitivity or conscience even in the crime of rape is determined by one’s caste,” said the article.

Moreover, the organisers of the silent morchas had also said that college youths alone would lead the morcha on Thursday as there would be no political or other leaders involved in the march.

However, the participants in the protests — according to The Indian Express report — belong to a wide range of political parties like Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP.

The OBCs are also not allowed to take part in the protests, even though many Dalits — including the entire Dalit community of Kopardi village — also wanted death penalty for the accused. This puts a question over whether the protests are actually about punishing the guilty or about a longstanding issue of reservation and a divide between Marathas and Dalits.

“The Khopardi gang-rape may be a trigger but the anger is directed more at the reservation benefits the Dalit community receives. Marathas say only a small fraction amongst them are rich and influential, the rest are poor and unemployed. Educating their children is a huge financial strain and illiteracy amongst Marathas is on the rise. Those educated say that reservation has rendered them jobless,” said another article in Open Magazine.

With input from agencies

Ekalavya, Ambedkar or Vemula, BJP wants party to counter "misinformation" on Dalits

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From Ekalavya to Rohith Vemula, the BJP leaders want its Dalit members to counter the Opposition’s ‘misleading’ campaign.At a day-long exercise of BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha to train its workers to face the media and people, senior party leaders underlined the need to convey the message that the Opposition was “twisting” facts to paint the Modi government as anti-Dalit.The party’s Dalit leaders tried to “place the facts” about Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and even character from Mahabharata – Ekalavya.The BJP’s SC Morcha chief Dushyant Gautam said Vemula, who committed suicide, belonged to a backward community and was not a Dalit. The party was of the view that while it could not drive home this point, the Opposition cashed in on the issue saying he was a Dalit to corner the government. The 100-odd participants were distributed letters, notes and pamphlets giving the “facts” about Vemula’s suicide, the beating of Dalits in Una for skinning a dead cow and atrocities against the community in regimes of Opposition governments.Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party’s Dalit leaders should highlight the steps taken by the Modi regime for economic uplift of the poor.BJP general secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal spoke of how in the Organisation the members should develop the art of responding effectively to Opposition “propaganda”.Party spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said Left intellectuals had “misguided” people about Ambedkar and Ekalavya. “Everybody talks about Babasaheb burning the Manusmriti. But, nobody talks of what he wrote in The Untouchables that there was no untouchability in the Manu era…. He was not anti-Brahmin. He was against the Varna system,” Shastri said.He said even facts about Eklavya were ‘distorted’ by the Left historians, who projected him as a tribal. “But in Mahabharata, it is mentioned that he was son of the senapati of the King of Magadh,” said Shastri.Party leader Shrikant Sharma accused the Opposition of politicising incidents concerning Dalits and asked the members to alter this narrative.With Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections scheduled early next year, the party has been concerned about the fallout of the Opposition campaign dubbing the BJP anti-Dalit. The meeting of the SC Morcha was the first in the series after the BJP decided to hold media workshops of all its panels.

Natural to express grief over mistreatment of Dalits: LK Advani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran BJP leader LK Advani on Monday said the Dalits have been suffering atrocities for a long time and it is natural to lament the mistreatment meted out to them. “Atrocities on Dalits is not today’s phenomenon. It is natural to express grief over the way the Dalits have been mistreated across the country,” he said, when asked about recent flogging of the Dalits at Una.Advani, who is a Member of Parliament from Gandhinagar, was in Ahmedabad for the ongoing Tiranga Yatra and visited Sabarmati Ashram and a school during his visit. He praised the development works done by the BJP Government in the state.”I am really happy to see the development of the art gallery and garden in Jodhpur municipality ward,” Advani told a gathering during the Tiranga Yatra. “It is a matter of great happiness to see unprecedented development works done in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) and in my constituency, first under the leadership of Narendra Modi and then by Anandiben Patel (who succeeded Modi as the CM),” Advani said. He also addressed the students of a municipal school where he talked about the origin of the tricolour.

Gujarat Dalit attacks: Two men thrash boy after father refuses to dispose cattle carcasses

Ahmedabad: A 15-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly beaten up late on Thursday evening by two men in Bhavda village of Daskroi taluka in Ahmedabad district ostensibly because his father refused to dispose off cattle carcasses in the village, police said on Saturday.

People protesting against the thrashing of Dalits. Reuters

People protesting against the thrashing of Dalits. Reuters

Two persons were arrested after the boy’s father, Dinesh Parmar, lodged an FIR against them. Kanbha police station officer Govindbhai Parmar told IANS that a case has been registered under the Prevention of Atrocities (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act, besides other provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

Complainant Dinesh Parmar told the police that his son Harsh, a standard 10 student, was sitting with a friend in their colony Vankarvas when the two accused — Sahil Thakore and Sarvarkhan Pathan — from the same village went there.

They started abusing Harsh for his father had refused to remove the carcasses in response to a call by Dalit organisations protesting the July 11 flogging of four youths in Una in Saurashtra.

Dalits in many villages in Gujarat have stopped cleaning up cattle carcasses after the Una incident as part of a pledge to do so. “Removing carcasses was our traditional work but after the Una incident, I took a pledge to give it up. I now depend solely on the daily wages I earn for a living,” said Dinesh Parmar.

PSO Govindbhai Parmar said the two accused persons had an argument with Harsh and his friend, following which they thrashed him. “It was a minor scuffle, but we still took Harsh to the hospital for a first-aid check,” he said.

The incident left Harsh traumatised and he was sent to his aunt’s house in Vastral area in Ahmedabad. “My son was traumatised by the incident and he was not ready to stay in the village. So I had to send him to my sister’s place,” said Dinesh Parmar.

Saffronisation of education will take place, if good for country: Union Minister Katheria

In a statement that could stir up another hornet’s nest, Union Minister Ramshankar Katheria has said there “will be saffronisation of education and the country” if it is “good” for the nation.”I am saying there will be saffronisation in education and in the country. Whatever is good will definitely take place. Be it saffronisation or ‘sanghwad’, if it’s good for the country then it will definitely take place (…shiksha me bhi bhagwakaran aur desh me bhi bhagwakaran hoga. Jo desh ke liye accha hoga wo hoga. Chahe wo bhagwakaran ho ya sanghwaad ho),” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Minister of State for HRD was addressing a function at the Lucknow University to celebrate ‘Hindvi Swaraj Diwas Samaroh’ to mark the 342nd coronation year of Shivaji. His remarks are likely to lend further ammunition to the opposition to attack the Modi government.”It is for the benefit of the country and whatever is good for the country… Call it ‘bhagwakaran’ (saffronisation) or ‘sanghwaad’ if you will, but it will be done,” he said.”We have been seeing this for a long time…Whatever is in the interest of the country, for the benefit of the country, on the basis of which the nation can stand with pride in the world, should it not be made part of the syllabus or should it not been taught to our children,” he said.”If students do not read about Maharana Pratap or Shivaji, will they then read about Ghengis Khan,” he asked. He said people like Shivaji inspired India’s independence.The minister also claimed that India’s history had been “tailored” to suit the “tastes of a few people” and called it “India’s greatest misfortune”. He called seeing “sacrifices of national leaders” in a political light, “a growing disease” in the country.”Ambedkar is seen as the personal property of one party, or of Dalits. In fact, Ambedkar is not just an ideal leader and nationalist for the country, but for the entire world,” he said.Remembering the contributions made by several stalwarts in the freedom struggle, Katheria said they lived their lives for humanity and welfare of the nation. He took the opportunity to blame the ruling Samajawadi Party in Uttar Pradesh for the state’s “educational backwardness”. “Uttar Pradesh is backward in all areas and zero in education,” he alleged.

JD(U) demands IGNCA chairman’s resignation who questioned role of Amdebkar in framing constitution

JD(U) on Tuesday demanded the “immediate resignation” of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) chairman Ram Bahadur Rai for questioning BR Ambedkar’s role in framing of the Constitution and describing it as a “myth”.The party’s national general secretary Shyam Rajak, in a statement here, also sought “registration of a case” against the chief of IGNCA, a premier government-funded arts centre. Rajak, who is also the deputy leader of the state Legislative Assembly, saw a “BJP design” behind assertions of IGNCA chief who he alleged is also a “BJP strategist.” “It is the policy of BJP to end constitutional rights given to the Dalits and the backwards and establish ‘Manuvad’ in the country,” he alleged.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rai, a former ABVP general secretary and now the Chairman of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, had said in an interview that Ambedkar merely “corrected” the language as the head of the drafting committee and the assertion that he played a key role in writing the Constitution was a “myth”. “The IGNCA Chairman’s assertion that it is a myth …is against the Constitution and also an insult to the Dalits and backward communities,” he said.”BJP is trying to befool people by garlanding the statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar and lighting agarbatti (incense sticks),” alleged Rajak, a former Bihar minister and prominent Dalit leader of JD(U). He called upon the Dalits and members of the backward class to unite and protest “BJP’s design” and also appealed to Dalit leaders in NDA to “quit” the ruling coalition at the Centre over the issue.

The monk who is selling his PM to Dalits

An 87-year-old monk is on a journey through the Bodh viharas of Uttar Pradesh with a message for the Dalit followers of Buddhism to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Dhamma Viriyo, the Akhil Bharatiya Sangha Nayak of the Bharatiya Bhikku Maha Sangha, is telling the people that while BSP supremo Mayawati refused to give him time, Modi went out of his way to honour him at Mhow, the birth place of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar. Traveling in a bus, which has Modi’s images on it, Viriyo is his devoted emissary describing the Prime Minister as the messiah for the poor.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accompanied by around 50 Bhikkus (Buddhist monastics), he holds between ten to 60 meetings in a district, reaching out to nearly 5000-7000 people each day. At the BJP headquarters, detailed reports of the Dhamma Chetna Yatra are received on a daily basis.BJP leaders deny the party’s involvement in the programme, being held under the banner of the Akhil Bhikku Sangha. However, eight meetings were held between party leaders and Viriyo before the yatra was flagged off in April at Varanasi, Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, by home minister Rajnath Singh, according to sources.”BJP workers welcome anyone who is working for manav kalyan (wellbeing of people). We have a lot of respect for Dr Viriyo,” said BJP general secretary Arun Singh.During his yatra, which ends in October, Viriyo is likely to cross around 1400-1500 Bodh Viharas, which fall in the midst of Dalit-dominated areas. According to sources, there are nearly 40-50 lakh followers of Buddhism, most of whom are Dalits and some are OBCs like Mauryas, in the state. The yatra is expected to cover Purvanchal, the OBC-dominated politically crucial region in UP.The BJP is trying to wean away the Dalit vote from Mayawati and targeting the non-Yadav OBC vote in UP. Several Dalits and other backward caste people in the state have adopted Buddhism, freeing themselves from the clutches of caste-based discrimination like untouchability. Dalit icons like Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, Mayawati’s mentor, have shown the way. While Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, Kanshi Ram died just a week before he was to convert to the religion from Hinduism. Mauryan emperor Ashoka had converted to Buddhism after the Kalinga war.The home minister, while flagging off the yatra, promised a statue of Buddha taller than the ones in Bamiyan in Afghanistan if BJP came to power in UP. Modi has invoked Buddhism in foreign policy, particularly in East Asia, and indicated his regard for it as a religion propagating peace.

UP Assembly polls: BSP banks heavily on Mayawati statues for campaigning in the 2017 polls

Notwithstanding BSP chief Mayawati’s declaration that she will no longer install statues in Uttar Pradesh if voted back to power, her supporters will be banking heavily on her statues for campaigning in the 2017 polls.A local sculptor has been roped in to carve out some 150 statues of ‘Behenji’ in her favourite pose to be installed at election offices and other places by BSP candidates in the coming elections for campaigning purposes.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Altogether orders for some 150 statues have been received and work is on in this regard with the dye being cast,” said Amarnath Prajapati, the sculptor who has to his credit several of the statues dotting the state capital installed by the Mayawati government.”The order for these statues have come in from individuals who supposedly are supporters of BSP candidates,” Prajapati said, adding he has been asked to deliver them well before the elections that are due early next year.Each statue will be some three-and-a-half feet high and weigh around 40 kg to ensure they are portable. It will be golden in colour and made of metal and marble.The statue will depict the former chief minister in walking mode, holding the purse in her right hand and scarf around her neck in her signature style.Prajapati, however, said that he has not been contacted by anyone from the party in this regard and the orders have come his way by individual buyers.The BSP chief, who has faced flak for installing her statues besides those of party founder Kanshi Ram at almost all the memorials and structures erected by her during her various stints as chief minister, had recently remarked that she will no longer make memorials or put up statues.”When I come to power, I will not build memorials, because my work is over. Now I will focus only on development,” Mayawati had said in Lucknow on April 14 on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti.She had also defended the decision to install her own statues by claiming that it was the wish of her mentor Kanshi Ram.”My statue was installed next to his (Kanshi Ram’s) as his successor and for dedicating my life to realising Ambedkar’s dreams and welfare of Dalits,” she had said.

Tarun Vijay attacked: Wife says he is alive as he hid from attackers; CM Rawat promises strict action

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Saturday met BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay who is recuperating at a hospital in Dehradun after an attack on Friday noon. After meeting Tarun Vijay, Rawat promised to take strict action against the accused. Tarun Vijay was attacked by a mob and his car was vandalised after he came out of a temple with Dalit leaders in Chakrata on Friday.Talking to the reporters after meeting the injured MP, the Chief Minister assured that Vijay’s condition was stable and that the doctors were happy with the line of treatment given to him, adding, that he has conveyed to the medical team of complete assistance from the state government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are pursuing this matter. Investigation has been ordered and as soon as the report comes, strict action will be taken,” Rawat added.He also said that public awareness also needs to be cultivated in the matter. “Yes, customs should be respected, but you can’t stop someone from worshipping. I want to call on all religious leaders in the state to open the doors of their temples to people from all faith and also to the Dalits. After all, everyone is human,” Rawat said.Meanwhile, Tarun Vijay’s wife said, “He is really injured, he told me he hid from the attackers that’s why he is alive. The villagers attacked him with sticks and stones and he is in the ICU right now.” The mob attacked Vijay and the Dalit leader reportedly for visiting the temple where entrance of persons belonging to backward castes is prohibited.The police team present there rescued the Uttarakhand MP and the Dalit leaders who sustained minor injuries. Following the Chief minister’s orders, a team of officers has left Dehradun for Chakrata.(With Inputs from ANI)

Rohith Vemula suicide: BJP seeks probe into funding for Hyderabad University protests

BJP on Friday asked the government to probe the source of funding behind the ongoing agitation of student groups in the University of Hyderabad following Rohith Vemula’s suicide and questioned how they were able to pay for tent and “lavish parties” every day.It continued to target Congress and the Left parties for “politicising” the Dalit scholar’s death, attacking the former’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi for not visiting Kerala where a Dalit girl was raped and murdered and the latter for “never” putting a Dalit in the leadership position.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told a press conference that the Joint Action Committee of 14 student groups were paying Rs 5,000 per day for tent and having lavish parties. Their protests have been going on since January 17 when Vemula ended his life.”I will definitely seek intelligence report and ask the government to probe the funding pattern and see if there are any external influences because this Congress-Communist network has conducted its business in academics in this fashion and manner,” Lekhi said.She took a dig at CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury over his demand that Dalits be given quota in private sector jobs, saying his party never put a Dalit in its Politburo in the last 51 years. She quoted reports to allege that the Left parties were responsible for 51,000 political murders in West Bengal.”Dalits were always used as foot soldiers but never given leadership,” she said.She wondered if there was a pattern behind agitations in a number of institutions like FTII, JNU and University of Hyderabad. She blamed those, including faculty members, close to Vemula for not “understanding” or “treating” his depression.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Do not be lured by freebies, Mayawati tells voters

Virtually attacking Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu offering freebies in their poll manifesto, BSP supremo Mayawati today asked voters not to be lured by such inducements, saying they “will not solve your problems.” “Regional parties will lure you with freebies like cell phones. But they won’t solve your problems,” she said at an election rally here.While the ruling AIADMK has promised cell phones free of cost and 100 units of power to all if voted to power, DMK has assured free 3G/4G connections. Seeking votes for her party candidates in the Assembly polls to be held here on May 16, Mayawati said that people require jobs and an end to poverty. “These regional parties give you freebies. Don’t vote for them. You have to vote for the right party that will give you jobs and put an end to poverty,” she said at a well-attended rally without naming any parties.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Such a ‘right party’ is her BSP, she claimed while referring to the various pro-people measures implemented by her party-led government in Uttar Pradesh in its four terms. She said her party has never released a manifesto as “we believe in doing and not saying.” Despite 68 years since Independence, the economic condition of the weaker sections like Muslims, SC/STs and OBCs did not show any progress, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister alleged and slammed different central governments for “not doing anything for their upliftment”.She expressed concern over crimes against Dalits, especially women. “Not a day passes without crimes against Dalit women in the country,” she said referring to the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit law student in Kerala.Even in Tamil Nadu, the voice of the weaker sections is being “muzzled” and no action is being taken against perpetrators of crimes against Dalits across the country, Mayawati alleged. “Let alone getting justice, even an FIR cannot be registered,” she claimed.The BSP chief alleged that most parties came to power with the “help of big corporates” and therefore any economic policies are drafted keeping them in mind and not the common people. BJP and RSS are trying to put an end to reservation in education and job, by seeking ‘review’ of the same, she alleged. Mayawati specifically singled out the BJP-led Central government, alleging that while the party was involving the corporates, it is however non-committal in providing reservation in the private sector.

Tolerate wealth, don’t prohibit its use: Raghuram Rajan

Noida: Calling money a “great equaliser”, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan called for raising society’s tolerance towards wealth rather than prohibiting its use.

Rajan, who recently drew criticism for comparing Indian economy as ‘one-eyed king in the land of blind’, also said he has no problem with India’s growth, but it can do better.

“In a free market, all it takes to buy what you want is money. You do not need a pedigree, a great family history, the right table manners, or the right fashionable clothings or looks,” he said in his convocation address at the Shiv Nadar University here.

“It is because money has no odour, because it is the great equaliser, that so many people across history have been able to acquire resources and invested them to make the world we live in.”

File photo. PTIFile photo. PTI

RBI Governer Raghuram Rajan. File photo. PTI

Making it easier for Dalits to start business can do more to social status than any reservation, he noted.

“Rather than prohibiting the use of money and wealth, let us think about increasing society’s tolerance for its use,” he suggested.

Lamenting that income inequality within countries is on the rise, he said the need of the hour is providing effective access to school and healthcare, a non-discriminating job market with many jobs and equal opportunities for advancement regardless of gender, race or background.

“Indeed, making it easy for Dalits to start businesses may do more for their social status because money empowers (more) than many other forms of affirmative action,” the governor said.

On the country’s GDP, he said: “I have no problem with India’s growth. It is doing great. It could do better”.

India has emerged as the fastest growing large economies in the world with a growth rate of 7.6 per cent in 2015-16. It
is projected to expand by 7.5 per cent in the current fiscal.

Rajan said there is a strong link between society’s support for free markets and the fairness with which wealth and opportunity are distributed among the population.

“Unfortunately, even while inequality between countries is diminishing today, inequality within countries is increasing. Today, even well-run market economies seem to be favouring those who already have plenty,” he said.

This, he felt, is because skills and capabilities have become much more important in well-paid jobs, and those born under good circumstances have a much better chance of acquiring the same.

“The winner-take-all nature of many occupations, where a few of the most capable entrepreneurs and the best workers take most of the income, accentuates the value of early childhood preparation and hence, the benefit of being born to
the right parents in the right community,” he said.

The governor said income inequality is on the rise, with some having colossal incomes and others worrying about the next meal.

“What can we all do to restore faith in markets? We have to work to provide effective access to schooling and healthcare for all, a non-discriminating job market with many jobs, equal opportunities for further advancement regardless of gender, race or background,” he said.

These measures will “increase the perceived legitimacy of wealth and society’s willingness to broaden the areas where it is spent,” he said.

To students, Rajan’s piece of advice was that they should earn by creating perceptible value and, equally, spend to create value. “Not only will your work be more enjoyable, but you will strengthen the economic freedom we sometimes take for granted,” the governor added.

Given the importance of broadening access to all the deserving, Rajan emphasised on the need for affordable educational degrees.

“We also should make sure unscrupulous schools do not prey on uninformed students, leaving them with high debt and useless degrees,” he added

On the regulatory front, Rajan unleashed a slew of customer friendly measures like making bank licensing process on-tap (already two universal banks have been licensed and 11 payments banks are on the way), linking bank rates to marginal cost of funds, making large foreign banks to become local subsidiaries and tap-and-go payments among others.

On the policy side, Rajan and his deputy Urjit Patel would be credited for getting agreements to have an official inflation target, a more broad-based monetary policy committee and a public debt management agency outside RBI, among others.

However, many regulatory autonomy proponents may blame Rajan for being party to RBI losing autonomy under the proposed new MPC which does not envisage a veto for the Governor in rates decisions.

But his biggest headache has been the mounting NPAs and the recent rupee fall. Despite efforts from day one and putting in new structures to improve the balance sheets of banks, bad loans and restructured accounts have soared to 13.4 per cent of the system as of Q1 this fiscal year.

Similarly, the recent currency war launched by China amidst its slumping economy and the resultant flight of capital from across the world, (FIIs have pumped out over Rs 17,000 crore in August alone) the rupee has been at the receiving end. Last Tuesday the rupee had slumped to 66.65, while its historic low was 68.85 on August 30, 2013. Yesterday the rupee lost five paise to 66.24 to the dollar.

Industry and analysts are blaming high interest rate of 7.25 per cent for the low credit growth, which at little over
8 per cent has hit a two-decade low.

“Rajan’s focus on price and currency stability with absolute clarity has been his outstanding achievement,” is how domestic brokerage Centrum Capital’s Sandeep Nayak describes the two Rajan years.

May be the best way to describe Rajan is to quote his own words that “the central banks are not the cheerleaders of the market.”

Vivek Agnihotri’s film screening triggers new row at Jadavpur

Kolkata: A day after the screening of Vivek Agnihotri’s controversial film “Buddha in a Traffic Jam” triggered clashes at the Jadavpur University here, a section of students have called for a protest march on Saturday against “planned fascist attacks” in educational institutions.

Advocating ‘Indomitable Jadavpur’, the agitators have appealed to the student community from West Bengal to participate in the protest march at the varsity playground in the evening.

“The students of this country are facing the fascist rage directly, and since they are trying to confront their ideas and challenging their role in education, the students everywhere in this country are being threatened, beaten up and even murdered.

Representational image. Image courtesy - CNN News18Representational image. Image courtesy - CNN News18

Representational image. Image courtesy – CNN News18

“Today, Jadavpur University is also facing similar planned fascist attacks on its autonomous space. So we appeal the student community of this state to join us in a rally to protest against such kind of fascist makeover of the educational institutions,” said a statement from the students.

Calcutta University students have also expressed solidarity with the agitators.

The Jadavpur University authorities on Friday filed a police complaint against four outsiders – three of them ABVP activists – for allegedly molesting female students of the varsity during a commotion over an open-air screening of Agnihotri’s film “Buddha in a Traffic Jam”.

With the campus on the boil over the screening of the movie, that faced loud protests from a large section of Left-leaning students loyal to the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union (FETSU) and sparked clashes, vice-chancellor Suranjan Das blamed the JU Alumni Association for granting permission to the organisers to use the Triguna Sen Auditorium and then cancelling it.

The agitators claim the movie “is a debatable one for its misrepresentation of the tribal resistance against neoliberal attacks and the attacks on Dalits on behalf of the state.”

‘Save Democracy’ rally: Those opposing PM Modi, RSS targeted with false allegations, says Rahul Gandhi

Launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Rahul Gandhi today said only two people’s writ runs in the country and those who stand against them are targeted with “false allegations”.He said around 40% of the country is facing a drought like situation and “50 farmers were committing suicide everyday”, but the Prime Minister “has nothing to say over the issue”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the party’s ‘Save Democracy’ rally here, the Congress Vice President also hit out at the Modi government over imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarkhand saying it was dislodging elected governments.”Only two people’s writ runs in the country. That is Mohan Bhagwat ji and Narendra Modi ji. And those who stand against them, speak against them face false allegations.”Modiji promised ‘achche din’ and today the country is reeling under drought. 40% of the country is reeling under drought. Everyday, 50 farmers are committing suicide.Latur, Vidarbha, Bundelkhand are burning. And Modiji has nothing to say about it,” Rahul said.Along with Rahul, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also addressed the rally before the party leaders courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station when they were stopped from trying to march to Parliament. They were released after a short while.”They dislodged elected governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They broke law and they keep on breaking it.”This is a democratic country. It belongs to everyone and not to a single person. And we will fight for democracy, for the poor, farmers, labourers, youth and women,” Rahul said.Attacking the ‘Make in India’ programme, the Congress leader said that Modi promised to give jobs to over two crore youths every year, but the pet initiative of the Prime Minister has been able to give jobs to only 1.3 lakh people.”Modiji had said he would give employment to the youth. We saw the Make in India programme on television and internet. It was widely discussed and there was a mega show in Mumbai. How many people got employment last year? Modiji said he will give employment to two crore youth every year. Only 1.3 lakh people got employment in India last year, which means, the Make in India has given jobs to only 350 youth every day,” Rahul said.He also attacked the BJP over the law in some states that prohibits those who have not passed Class X exams from contesting local bodies polls and said, by this action, doors of democracy are being closed for dalits and women.”In different areas of the country they say if anyone is not a Class X pass they he cannot contest panchayati elections. What is the outcome? Lakhs of Dalits and women are not getting a chance to contest polls. Doors of democracy are being closed on them. But Modiji does not want to speak a single word,” Rahul said.

Tamil Nadu polls: Determined to win, PMK’s Ramadoss plans a transformation from within

Chennai: Fighting the assembly polls on its own, the PMK is trying to shed its ‘Vanniyar caste’ image, by propping up candidates of all communities, in a bid to do a BSP in Tamil Nadu.

The party’s chief ministerial candidate, Anbumani Ramadoss, has addressed several meetings to convince party leaders and cadres that it was time to bring about a transformation from within.

“We have to change as we are growing at a fast pace. Now we have broad-based our party,” Ramadoss, a former central minister, whose party was part of both the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Manmohan Singh governments, told IANS.

Anbumani Ramadoss. PIB.Anbumani Ramadoss. PIB.

Anbumani Ramadoss. PIB.

“This time we have fielded candidates from a cross-section of the society: Brahmins, Christians, Muslims, Dalits, Mudaliars, and others, apart from Vanniars,” said the 47-year-old.

“We have fielded 48 Dalits though the number of reserved constituencies in the state is only 46. We are going that extra mile,” he added.

Like the BSP in northern India that once refused to see beyond the Dalit vote bank, the PMK, born in 1989, has been solidly identified with the Vanniyar caste, which accounts for 20-25 percent of Tamil Nadu’s population.

And just like the BSP, the PMK seems to have realised that a single caste can never prop up any party to power. It has just two members in the outgoing assembly.

This time, the PMK is contesting the election to the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly without any allies. In the process, it has taken on the two major parties: the AIADMK and the DMK.

Ramadoss said the idea was to attract the neutral and new voters that is said to number around 1.5 crore. The state election is due on 16 May.

The PMK has also fielded several young and new faces who were not even its members. “In the past, we were part of alliances and were given a limited number of seats,” he said. “This time, we have 234 seats to contest. We decided to offer a chance to professionals. There is no internal dissidence due to this.”

Ramadoss told IANS: “The clear trend is that people want a change — a fresh alternative to the two Dravidian parties, AIADMK and DMK. The youth certainly thinks that I can provide the much needed quality change than the other options.”

Of course, the PMK, like others, is making plenty of promises to the voters. Those in the farm sector have been promised free seeds, fertiliser and farm motors. Their loans will be written off.

Tamil-naduTamil-nadu

The PMK has also promised to give Rs.1,00,000 worth of freebies a year to each family for education, agriculture and health heads.

Asked what kind of chief minister he will be if his party wins the polls, Ramadoss said: “I will meet the leaders of the opposition every month. And during assembly session, 70 percent of the time will be given to opposition parties. The proceedings will be telecast live.”

He said Tiruchirapalli will be made Tamil Nadu’s second capital by shifting agriculture-related departments there. The PMK has promised doubling of budget allocation for education and provision of free school education.

Govt favours quota in promotions, but we need to create the right atmosphere: Gehlot

New Delhi: Expressing its commitment for reservation for SC, ST and OBC in promotion, on Monday the government sought the cooperation of the Congress in creating the right atmosphere before a law could be enacted to give the proposal the statutory backing.

Admitting that there were sections in the NDA as well as in the Congress who were opposed to reservation in promotions, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said “the government favours reservation in promotion…(but) we need to create the right atmosphere.”

The Minister was responding to the demand for reservation in promotion raised by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge during a debate on demands of grants for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The demands were later passed by the Lok Sabha after rejecting opposition-sponsored cut motions by voice vote.

“If Congress can give in writing that it favoured reservation in promotion (for members of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Caste), the government will push forward the proposal,” Gehlot said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Earlier during the UPA regime, a bill to ensure reservation in promotion was approved by the Rajya Sabha but could not go through in the Lok Sabha because of differences among political parties.

Seeking to put the ball in the BJP’s court, Kharge said at present, the NDA government has the majority and it should try to push the proposal so that members of the SC, ST and OBC may get the benefit of reservation in promotion.

The NDA members, Kharge said, should convince Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the need for reservation in promotion.

Several members also raised the issue that members of SC and ST communities were not adequately represented in higher judiciary and the corporate sector.

Gehlot said if the corporate sector willingly decide to provide reservation to SC, ST and OBC, the government will not have any problem.

“If the corporates willingly create an atmosphere for giving reservation, we will have no problem,” the Minister said.

Kumbh Mela: Amit Shah and MP CM Chouhan to take a holy dip in Shipra river alongside Dalits

BJP President Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan along with his cabinet colleagues, Dalits and tribals will take a holy dip christened as the ‘Samrasta Snan’ (harmony bath), apparently in a bid to win over the twin communities, at Shipra river on May 11 during Simhastha-Kumbh mela underway at Ujjain district.The move has come at a time when RSS is organising a series of functions to draw Dalits and tribals to its fold apparently after the Sangh Parivar head Mohan Bhagwat stirred a hornet’s nest by calling for review of reservation policy during run up to the Bihar assembly polls last year. The statement had boomeranged and apparently led to BJP’s drubbing in the caste-ridden polls.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Shah, BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Chouhan, BJP MP chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan and other state ministers are going to take part in Samrasta Snan on May 11. We have invited Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot (a BJP Dalit face) also to the snan,” a RSS outfit – Deendayal Vichar Prakashan – Vice President Ajay Pratap Singh said.Shah and other leaders will reach the camp of Deendayal Vichar Prakashan set up near the Mela site and in a procession go to Ramghat where they will bathe.”The Dalits and tribals will participate in the snan in large numbers. Members of other communities too will take the ‘Samrasta snan’. The snan will be followed by Samrasta Bhoj (harmony lunch),” he said.RSS is running a nationwide campaign this year to promote what it calls “social harmony” among Hindus apparently with an eye to win over Dalits and tribals which are key to BJP’s hopes of wresting power in Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls next year.The RSS had already held discussions on ‘samajik samrasta’ (social harmony) in its shakhas (morning get-together classes) from January 3-10.”We have also organised common meals and get-together in which Dalits and tribals participated,” a RSS leader said.Besides, Samajik Samrasta yajnas are being organised, he added.Meanwhile, the RSS is circulating a Hindi booklet titled Sabhi Hindu Sahodar Hai (all Hindus are siblings), containing its views on Hindu samrasta in Bhopal, Gwalior, Chambal and Narmadapuram revenue divisions of MP which it refers as Madhya Bharat Pranth.The 32-page booklet praises Dr B R Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, and contains lectures of former RSS chiefs late Balasaheb Deoras and late M S Golwalkar vehemently opposing untouchability.In a stunning comeback in Uttar Pradesh, BJP had swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state, which was mainly attributed to the consolidation of Dalit votes, and the party has been hoping to continue the trend in the 2017 Assembly polls in the politically crucial state. However, the debacle in Bihar Assembly polls despite the fact that it won a major chunk of Lok Sabha seats in the state had jolted the party.

From parliament to poster: BSP hoarding shows Mayawati as Kali holding Smriti Irani’s head

Posters showing former UP CM Mayawati as Hindu goddess Kali holding the head of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani have surfacted in Hahtras, leading to a controversy. The hoarding also shows Mayawati standing on top of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The BSP chief is garlanded with skulls and PM Modi is shown begging for forgiveness. It’s believed the posters were put up by BSP workers.BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said his party had taken offence and told IANS: ““The BSP in the past has ridiculed Hindu gods and deities so it is not very surprising. But what is very worrying is the fact that through such inflammatory acts, the BSP is trying to trigger casteist clashes.” Mayawati v/s Smriti Irani in parliament Mayawati and Smriti had clashed in parliament during the JNU row. Asserting that she was not ‘satisfied’ with Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani’s answers on Rohith Vemula’s suicide, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Friday asked if the former would chop her head off and place it on her feet as promised earlier if her reply would be unsatisfactory.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I request you Mayawati ji, I am ready to give a reply. I have been listening to your demands since the morning. And if you are unsatisfied with my reply then I will cut my head and put it on your feet,” Irani had said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.Mayawati reminded Irani on Friday that her response to her questions had been most unsatisfactory so if she would stick to her earlier assertion. “She told me that if I am not satisfied by her response then she will chop her head off and place it on my feet. I am not satisfied with her response, so she should give me her head but I am sure that she will not do such a thing,” Mayawati said.Slamming Irani for her ‘Mahishasur’ comment, she added that the HRD Minister had insulted the Adivasi and the Dalit community with her statement and accused the writers of Indian mythology to having portrayed both the communities in a negative light.”Her comment on Mahishasur has insulted the Dalit and the Adivasis of the nation. It was shameful and she put forth a distorted version of the truth and our party condemns it. Those who wrote the Indian mythology have pinned Mahishasur’s faults on the Dalits and the Adivasis and they have been portrayed as people who never respected women, whereas they were those who protected Sita,” Mayawati said.She added that Irani should have stuck to the topic of discussion which was Rohith Vemula and accused her of purposely veering off point in an attempt to shift the focus.”If the government does not want to do anything for these two communities, then at least they should stop insulting them. They should start by sacking VK Singh who called them animals,” she said.Mayawati said that the HRD Minister owed an apology to the nation for trying to mislead them by giving out the wrong facts in the matter of Rohith Vemula. She also alleged that the Gazette formed by the Centre over the probe in the matter was ‘illegal’ as it was formed without taking consent in both Houses.”On February 2nd, the government formed an illegal gazette as both the Houses were not notified about it first. We even present of copy of the document in the Parliament today,” Mayawati said.Earlier on Friday, Mayawati and Irani were seen at loggerheads again over the issue of the late Phd scholar from Hyderabad University. Under fire over the Dalit scholar’s suicide, Irani said in the Rajya Sabha, “It is incorrect that there is no member of SC community in the inquiry committee. Rohith Vemula’s mother asked for a judicial inquiry into child’s death. I assured her justice will be done.”Responding to the HRD Minister’s claims, BSP supremo Mayawati said that she was not satisfied with Irani’s answers and accused her of indulging in drama to cover up the entire episode.”It is incorrect that there is no member of SC community in the inquiry committee. The probe commission has not kept any Dalit member. There is no intention of giving justice to Rohith Vemula,” Mayawati said.Mayawati had earlier accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of suppressing the voice of Dalits with the help of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Government at the Centre.

NDA govt will support quota till there is inequality: Uma Bharti

NDA government will support quota till there is “inequality” in the country, Union Minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday said and asserted Constitution architect B R Ambedkar and not Rohith Vemula should be “role model” for Dalits.”I felt very sad when Rohith Vemula committed suicide. His suicide was a matter of shame for the entire country. But I heard one statement that Rohith Vemula is our role model. Only Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar can be role model of Dalits and no one else. Because he chose to fight, he assessed challenges and fought them,” Bharti said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She made these remarks while addressing a seminar ‘Multi-purpose Development of Water Resources and Present Challenges’, organised here to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar.Bharti said there is a need to give “special opportunities” to those from “weakest” section till there is inequality and asserted the NDA government is for reservation until “inequalities are there”.”It is our resolution, be it Modiji or our ministers, MPs, we are saying that this is a society filled with inequality. And until child of the President and that belonging to a poor family don’t go to one school, we will need to give reservation,” she stressed.During her speech, Bharti also referred to Ambedkar as founder of Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission (CWINC), considered as the forerunner of present day Central Water Commission (CWC).She also announced her Ministry will observe Ambedkar’s birth anniversary as ‘Water Day’ from next year, after Indian Council of Social Science Research chairman Sukhdeo Thorat made a suggestion in this regard.Bharti also declared that 100 villages dominated by schedule caste community populace will be selected under Government’s ‘Jal Gram’ scheme for water conservation. Under Jal Gram, part of government’s Jal Kranti Abhiyan, two water starved villages will be selected from every district in the country for all-round development of water resources.The event was also attended by Union Ministers Ramvilas Paswan, Thawarchand Gehlot, Sanwar Lal Jat, Ram Shankar Katheria and Hansraj Ahir. Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar and BJP MP Udit Raj also attended the event.

From Mhow to New York, govt eulogises Dalit icon

There were many firsts to mark the 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing dais with Buddhist monks in Mhow, the Dalit icon’s birth place, to Indian diplomatic missions all over the world, including the one at the United Nations, the anniversary was celebrated at par with Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.After invoking Buddhism in foreign diplomacy, Modi reflected his reverence to the religion on the domestic stage. While paying tributes to Ambedkar, who had converted to Buddhism, he had, by his side, Buddhist monks, one of whom was 87-year-old Dhamma Virio of Akhil Bharatiya Bhikshu Maha Sangha.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kanshi Ram, the Dalit leader, who was Mayawati’s mentor, had, in 2002, announced his intention to convert to Buddhism on October 14, 2006, the 50th anniversary of Ambedkar’s conversion. However, he died just a week before that date and his last rites were performed according to Buddhist traditions.Modi has made symbolic gestures over his regards for Buddhism, a religion propagating peace. Making it a realm of diplomacy, he has tried to reach out to countries in East Asia, which have a Buddhist connect, BJP sources said.The BJP wants to leave no stone unturned in its outreach to Dalits, as it braces up for the Uttar Pradesh election, which is a year away.The Modi government and the party have planned a 10-day programme across the country, while outside, from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, Indian diplomatic missions hosted receptions to mark Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.For the first time, the UN also celebrated the day and Ambedkar was described as a “global icon” for marginalised people. Indian’s Permanent Mission at the UN headquarters in New York arranged a panel discussion attended by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, and three academics.Government sources here said that the thrust of the celebrations of the Dalit icon’s anniversary had come from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). So far the missions used to arrange such discussions only to mark Gandhi Jayanti or commemorate India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.Sources added that Ambedkar’s legacy was pushed forward deliberately to claim his legacy and blunt the diplomatic fall-out on the debate on intolerance and student unrest, following the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Chakravarti Vemula in Hyderabad Central University.Many Dalit writers such as V T Rajshekhar had always tried to link the travails of American Black population to Dalits in India. Incidentally, Vemula’s family converted to Buddhism in Mumbai.Back home, the RSS was in sync with the BJP. A cover story in the latest issue of ‘Organiser’, the RSS mouthpiece, described Ambedkar as a unifier, while the editorial said it was Babasaheb who revived the reformist zeal of ancient civilisation in the modern era.”Though Babasheb criticised and denounced the rotten customs of Hinduism, when he had to find an alternative path, instead of going for foreign originated Semitic religions or divisive ideologies, he preferred the path of Buddha, simply because he was aware of the cultural spirit of his Motherland,” the editorial said.Meanwhile, hitting back at the Congress, which has accused him of trying to “appropriate” the legacy of national icons, Modi said that the party that ruled the country for decades should “repent” for “undermining” the legacy of the architect of the Constitution.Addressing a rally on the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar at his birthplace here, Modi asked why the Congress was getting perturbed when his government was working ardently for fulfilling the vision of the Dalit icon and said he would have felt proud to work at “the feet of Baba Saheb”.In Lucknow, BSP supremo Mayawati, cautioning Dalits and backwards against BJP’s designs, said its leaders will only act as “bonded labourers of RSS” and claimed Modi could do little for the OBCs, though he claims to belong to the community.Mayawati, who faced opposition attack during her last stint as UP chief minister over building memorials to Dalit icons, including her mentor Kanshi Ram and herself, on Thursday promised she would not construct new monuments and focus on development if voted to office again.Describing Ambedkar as one of the greatest icons of modern India, Congress president Sonia Gandhi recalled his contribution across every field of national development on his 125th birth anniversary. “One of the greatest icons of modern India, Dr Ambedkar’s contribution is spread across every field of national development.”His faith in democracy, which he shared with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other stalwarts of the freedom movement, is one of his proud legacies to our country,” she said in a message.—With inputs from agencies

Rahul Gandhi goes to poor people’s houses to ‘show-off’, says Smriti Irani

Union Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday used the occasion of B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary to take potshots at Rahul Gandhi, saying he goes to poor people’s houses for “showoff” unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi who does not do so and understands what poverty means.She also congratulated Modi for his efforts that led the UN to observe the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar for the first time.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The prime minister was working to fulfil Ambedkar’s dreams of making India a prosperous country and removing inequality by uplifting the Dalits and the down trodden, she said.In a dig at Gandhi, Irani said that the Congress vice president was going to poor people’s houses along with journalists, whereas “our Prime Minister ate at a langar (free lunch) here in the nearby Sant Ravidas temple just like any ordinary citizen”.”Our PM has faced poverty from his childhood, he used to assist his family in selling tea at the railway station, he doesn’t need to go anywhere (like that leader) for showoff. He can very well understand what poverty means for poor,” the Union Minister told a gathering at Modi’s newly-adopted village Nagepur under the ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’.Modi has also adopted Jayapur village in his parliamentary constituency.Irani also dedicated a digitalised Anganwadi centre cum Nand ghar and unveiled Ambedkar’s statue in the village on the occasion.

BJP’s Ambedkar’s pitch: Party president Shah claims only they imbibed his vision

Haridwar: Accusing Congress and other political rivals of indulging in politics in the name of B R Ambedkar, BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday claimed that Modi government alone has truly imbibed the Dalit icon’s inclusive vision by taking development to people on the lowest rung of the social ladder.

Noting that the contribution of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Ambedkar was the biggest in building integrated India post Independence, he said if one facilitated the merger of over 350 princely states with India, the other gave the country a beautiful Constitution which envisioned equal development of all sections, communities and regions.

Charging political adversaries with only using the name of Ambedkar to serve their political interests and doing nothing to promote his vision, Shah especially targeted Congress, saying it did nothing to develop places associated with the great leader’s life and times despite being in power at the Centre for nearly 50 years.

He said it was during the previous BJP government at the Centre that Ambedkar was conferred with the much-deserved Bharat Ratna and it was during Modi’s regime that his memorial was built at his birthplace in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.

A file photo of Amit Shah. PTIA file photo of Amit Shah. PTI

A file photo of Amit Shah. PTI

Narendra Modi government alone truly imbibed Baba Saheb’s inclusive vision of growth reflected in the Constitution.

“Like him, we (BJP) also believe that development, in the real sense of the word, cannot be brought about until we take development to people on the lowest rung of the social hierarchy,” Shah told a public gathering at a programme organised here to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar.

He said by conducting a country-wide drive titled ‘Gram Udaya-Bharat Udaya’ from 14 -24 April, the BJP will create
awareness among people all over the country about the Centre’s schemes meant for Dalits.

“The BJP’s emphasis on rural development, connectivity and empowerment of the impoverished sections reflects its commitment to implement Ambedkar’s vision which is basically about bringing forward the poor and the downtrodden and helping them join the mainstream of development.

“This is the reason why Rs 80 lakh has been given to each village for construction of roads under PMGSY. This is the reason why Modi government is paying so much attention to taking electricity to every village. As many as 15,000 villages across the country were without electricity even decades after the independence.

“Modi government was the first to view the problem with as much seriousness as it deserved and the rsult is that 5,500 villages out of those 15,000 have already been connected with electricity and the rest will also get electricity by May 2018.”

125th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: This video tells us why we need him even today

Today is Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. The man who gave us the Constitution, wrote the freedoms that are now enshrined in it. The man whom millions of Dalits rever as God. This video here, where dna’s former Photo Editor Sudharak Olwe talks about plight of Mumbai’s conservancy workers who are predominantly Dalits, tells us how Ambedkar’s work is not complete yet. We wish away the caste system, but the establishment doesn’t allow it to go.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Olwe makes a moving point when he describes how a conservancy worker has suffered boiling rice water thrown on him even as he was going about his work of cleaning a narrow housegalli in South Mumbai. Or the occasion where a sanitary napkin was thrown at him and his co-worker used a broom to wipe off blood from his face.
ALSO READ Sudharak Olwe captures the invisible work force of the cityWe, at dnaindia.com, salute Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and the conservancy workers in India who have been silently working without much-deserved respect.

Women in Shani Shingnapur temple: A brief history of entry laws and how times are changing

After four months of efforts put in by women led by activist Trupti Desai, the trust of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra has finally permitted women to enter the temple and pray in the sanctum sanctorum putting an end to a 400-year-old custom. This comes after the Bombay High Court made it clear that it was incumbent upon the state government to ensure that the Maharashtra Hindu Places of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956 was properly enforced.

The Maharashtra temple entry act, originally enacted to enable temple entry for Dalits, long forbidden to enter public temples by Hindus, was held to be equally applicable to women who had been excluded from praying at the temple. Since 2011, women had been allowed to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple though they were not allowed into the sanctum sanctorum.

The demand for temple entry to all classes has long been a part of the larger struggle for social reform in India. Initially begun as a movement towards seeking equality for Dalits with other caste Hindus, it has now also embraced within its scope Hindu women who seek parity with men in access to temples.

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Image courtesy: IBNLive

History of temple entry laws and their constitutionality

Temple entry for Dalits, who had been barred on grounds of “untouchability”, was one of the leading social reform movements that ran parallel to the larger Independence movement in the early part of the last century in India. The first legal measure guaranteeing the rights of Dalits to enter temples at par with all other caste Hindus was the Temple Entry Proclamation issued by the then Maharajah of Travancore. It opened the doors of all temples in the princely state of Travancore to all classes of Hindus. This was subsequently followed by the Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act, 1939 passed in the then Madras Presidency guaranteeing Dalits the right of temple entry there. Other states have followed since, and the aforementioned Maharashtra Hindu Places of Worship Act is one of those laws protecting the rights of all classes of Hindus to access places of worship equally. Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution of India clarifies that temple entry laws are not tantamount to restriction of individual’s right to religion under Article 25(1).

These laws have not gone unchallenged in Court. The Bombay Harijan Temple Entry Act, 1947 (the precursor to the Maharashtra temple entry law) was challenged in Bombay High Court by members of the Jain community arguing that it did not apply to them since their temples were not open to Hindus generally, even though the definition of “Hindus” under the Act included Jains. The Bombay High Court upheld this contention holding that Hindus couldn’t enter the temple as a matter of right, Dalits could also therefore not claim to enter the temple as a matter of right under the Bombay Act.

Did this necessarily mean that as long as a temple was set up by a given denomination it could ignore all temple entry laws? The Constitution protects both an individual right to religion under Article 25 and a denominational right to manage its own religious affairs under Article 26 of the Constitution, so an argument could be made that temple entry laws won’t affect a temple used exclusively by a given denomination. The Supreme Court of India in Venkataramana Devaru versus State of Mysore did not think so. In a challenge raised by a temple meant for Gaud Saraswat Brahmins in the coastal regions of the then Mysore state (now Karnataka), the Supreme Court clarified that temple entry laws would also apply to so-called denominational temples. It read the permission to make temple entry laws contained in Article 25 of the Constitution to be applicable as a limitation on the rights of denominations of a religion to manage their own religious affairs, including the running of temples. In effect, as some legal scholars pointed out, it raised the statutory right of Dalits to enter temples to the level of a constitutional right – an interpretation that was perhaps more in line with the Constitution than a pedantic reading would suggest.

As it stands, where a law guaranteeing temple entry for all classes of Hindus for temples which are generally open to the public such a law will validly apply to not just temples which are meant for the general public but also temples for the exclusive use of a denomination. Even if it had been claimed that the Shani Shingnapur temple had been built for a particular denomination of Hindus, women would still have a right to enter such temples under the Maharashtra Temple Entry law.

Impact on Haji Ali and Sabarimala cases

Shani Shingnapur is not the only instance where women are seeking entry to temples on par with men. The Sabarimala temple in Kerala and the Haji Ali dargah have also become the focus of efforts by women to seek entry to religious places of worship. The entry of women to both are presently under litigation before the Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court respectively. The Bombay High Court has stated that it will wait for an authoritative ruling by the Supreme Court in the Sabarimala case before deciding the Haji Ali case.

One distinction must be pointed out between the two cases in court – whereas the Constitution explicitly states that laws makes the throwing open of Hindu religious places of worship to all classes is an exception to any claimed right to religion by a person or a denomination, no similar clause exists for other religious places of worship. Even Article 15 which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, gender et al in public places does not include “temples or places of worship” as public places. This does not necessarily mean that there is no constitutional protection for Muslim women who wish to access the Haji Ali dargah. Rather that the argument for the same may have to be made on the constitutional guarantee of equality rather than rely on specific statutory provisions regarding temple entry.

Shorn of all the legal and religious construction, the justifications offered for denying women entry into places of worship rests on a supposed inferiority of women in matters of religion. Whether such an argument is linked to menstruation, the weakness of physical frame or some other physical attribute of women, the fact remains that the arguments offered for restricting women’s entry to religious places is a brute exercise of patriarchal power and nothing more. When such barriers and obstacles in the path of equality of women is being slowly but steadily being eroded in most aspects of society, one hopes that the Constitutional courts of India will find themselves on the right side of history in clearing the path for equal rights for women in matters of religion.

Maharashtra government will crush attempts to raise anti-national slogans, says Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse on Monday said the state government will “crush” all attempts to raise anti-national slogans and vitiate atmosphere in educational institutions.Khadse, the Leader of the House in the state Legislative Council, said the government will not tolerate attempts at disturbing atmosphere by statements that “people would not chant slogans like ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharatmata Ki Jai'”. “The government will crush all attempts to raise anti- national slogans,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said the government will probe whether the event at Fergusson College in Pune in which (JNUSU President) Kanhaiya Kumar was invited had permission. “The question is not that any outsider is being accused of anti-national activities, but an MLA, who was not even invited to the College, goes there and tries to vitiate the atmosphere,” Khadse said.
ALSO READ Nobody needs to be forced to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, says RSS chief Mohan BhagawatHe was making an intervention after Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde and others tried to move a series of adjournment motions over the event at Fergusson College, Nanded farmer suicide and the ‘purification’ ritual at ‘Chavdar Tale’ in Mahad in Raigad district. Kapil Patil (Lok Bharti) raised the issue of a ‘purification’ ritual at ‘Chavdar Tale’ in Mahad in Raigad district, where Babasaheb Ambedkar had led “water satyagraha” to assert the rights of Dalits to use the water in the lake in 1927.Anil Parab (Shiv Sena) intervened and said the function in Mahad was an official one and that invites were sent to elected representatives as well.

Watch: PM Modi assures there will be no change in reservation policy for Dalits

Making it clear that there will be no change in the reservation policy for Dalits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that nobody can snatch their right even as he accused his opponents of spreading “untruths” on the issue.The Prime Minister also compared Constitution architect B R Ambedkar to Martin Luther King who had fought for the rights of blacks. Delivering the Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, Modi said, “Nothing has ever happened to the reservation for Dalits, tribals, when we are in power but still lies are being spread to mislead people. When Vajpayeeji became PM, a campaign was run saying reservation will be abolished. He was the Prime Minister for two terms and nothing of that sort happened. BJP has ruled in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Haryana for many years and the quota policy never suffered a scratch. Yet untruths are being spread. People, who are only interested in doing politics, fail to come out of it,” Modi said<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that quota is the “right” of the Dalits and the underprivileged that nobody can snatch, the Prime Minister noted, “As I had said earlier also that even if Ambedkar appears today, he cannot snatch this very right of yours. What are we before Baba Saheb”.PTILaying the foundation stone for Ambedkar National memorial, the Prime Minister targeted his political opponents accusing them of “spreading confusion and lies” on the issue and rued that while its “serves their politics”, such things “weaken” the social fabric of the nation.The Prime Minister’s renewed pitch on reservation comes ahead of assembly polls in five states–West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry beginning next month. He repeatedly questioned “why it took 60 years” to do it and reminded that Ambedkar as law minister had to resign from Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet owing to lack of backing on the Hindu Code Bill that was a progressive move aimed to codify and reform Hindu personal law in India by giving the women equal rights in many spheres like property. Terming it “injustice” to call Ambedkar only a messiah of Dalits, the Prime Minister said that he was the voice of all marginalised sections and was a “Vishwa Manav” (global personality) and likened him to civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King.Linking the waterways bill brought by his government in Parliament with Ambedkar’s views on India’s maritime strength, Modi said no work on it happened in last 60 years and the difference is visible “when some bhakta (devotee) of Baba Saheh comes in government”.’Take pride in building memorial at 26 Alipur Road’Training his guns on opponents, he said that it is “indeed difficult to digest defeat”, a swipe at Congress which faired poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.”Some people don’t like us. They don’t even want to see us. They get fever on seeing us and in fever, one loses control of mind. That is why they say all kinds of lies and all absurd things. Those who did not work for 60 years have given us a chance to do this and we take pride in doing such works like building a memorial at 26 Alipur Road,” he said.Modi said it was for the first time that the Prime Minister of the country was delivering the Ambedkar Memorial lecture being organized for the sixth time. Without naming Congress, the Prime Minister repeatedly attacked the main Opposition on the treatment meted out to Ambedkar in the last 60 years, saying had the Dalit icon been projected rightly many of the problems that grip society now would not have existed.”The problem that we see in society would not have been there, had we not forgotten Ambedkar,” he said.”Everybody knows what injustice was done to Baba Saheb and who did this injustice to him. What was the reason that the previous governments kept the decision on Indu Mills pending for so long? Same was for the place where Babasaheb stayed in London. Even after this, we are being blamed and a bad name is given to us…Wherever we have got the opportunity to serve, we have taken decisions out of ‘shradha’ (reverence) towards Dr Ambedkar,” said Modi, whose government was recently under attack from the Opposition over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.”All these works were taken up only when the BJP governments came to power. Why were they not done earlier. For 60 years this did not happen. Vajpayeeji saw the dream and I have got the opportunity to fulfil it,” Modi said as he listed a number of measures taken by his government for welfare of Dalits.PTIPM Modi remembers former PM VajpayeeRecalling the efforts and role played by former Prime Minister Vajpayee in remembering Ambedkar, he said he initiated the process to acquire the places associated with the icon and developed them into memorials.”But his government did not remain in power. After that the governments that came did not have Amebedkar in their hearts. That is why even after acquisition of Ambedkar’s Alipur Road house it (memorial) could not be built. Our pledge is to complete it by March 2018 and I declare here that I will inaugurate it on April 14, 2018,” Modi said amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ from the audience.He said the memorial to be built on 26, Alipur Road will be a grand and an iconic building of Delhi. It may be an iconic building for the world, but for us it will be a source of inspiration and the coming generations should draw inspiration from it.”Modi said, “We have done injustice to Babaseheb Ambedkar by limiting him as a messiah of dalits alone as he was against anything inhuman and had raised his voice against all injustice and fought for the rights of the marginalised and the oppressed sections in society”.On the issue of Ambedkar’s resignation from Nehru cabinet on the issue of Hindu Code bill, Modi said, “why was it that Dr. Ambedkar had to resign from the ministry? People do not know about it. Either history is encroached upon or is diluted and diverted in another direction.”He said that when the issue of equal rights to women came up, Babasaheb was clear that if women don’t get equal rights, he cannot be a part of the ministry. “The then government bowed to pressure,” he said.The Prime Minister compared the contribution of Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Babasaheb Ambedkar and said while Patel did the task of uniting the princely states, Ambedkar did the task of uniting society. ‘Educate, Organise and Struggle’Modi also talked about the three mantras given by Ambedkar – to educate, organise and struggle, which are relevant even today. Laying stress on education and organising, he said if these are accomplished there would be no need for the third one, as most people lay stress on struggle these days. He also highlighted how the icon held no bitterness against anyone when he had power, despite suffering so much humiliation, including that against his mother.”No bitterness is seen in the expressions of Ambedkar. There is no feeling of revenge. For Ambedkar, the upper castes also belonged to him as also the dalits,” Modi said, adding that sometimes the tongue is inadvertently cut by the teeth but we do not uproot the teeth for the same.Alluding to the defeat of Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Prime Minister said it is very difficult to digest defeat, but noted that society and country are bigger than defeat and victory.PM Modi attacks Opposition once againIn a veiled dig at his political opponents who have repeatedly targeted the government on Dalit issues, he said while Ambedkar worked for the cause of the downtrodden inspired by the duty for the nation and society and not for power, there are others for whom only the last mattered and not nation and society.”Accusing the previous governments of not projecting Ambedkar in the right perspective, he said had this been done a number of social problems would not have existed.”This question can arise in any body’s mind that Ambedkar passed away in 1956 but why work for a memorial is being started 60 years after. 60 years have passed, I don’t know who will be held accountable for this. But, we had to wait for 60 years. Perhaps, it was a blessing of Babasaheb Ambedkar on me that I got the opportunity to do it,” he said.Modi also recalled the vision of Ambedkar, saying he had envisioned a lot of things during his time, which later governments have brought in. He cited examples of labour reforms and steps taken for empowerment of women, besides strengthening India’s maritime power. He also said that Ambedkar had worked a lot for labour reforms as he thought of industrialisation for the progress of India and labour reforms for the poor.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: From PM Modi batting for reservation policy to Team India’s squad for Azlan Shah Cup

1. PM Modi lays foundation stone for Ambedkar memorial; says reservation for Dalits a right that nobody can snatchMaking it clear that there will be no change in the reservation policy for Dalits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that nobody can snatch their right even as he accused his opponents of spreading “untruths” on the issue. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Uttarakhand crisis: Former CM Vijay Bahuguna’s son expelled from Congress for 6 yearsContinuing to crack the whip following the rebellion by the nine Congress MLAs in Uttarakhand, the state Congress on Monday expelled Vijay Bahuguna’s son and state organisation secretary Anil Gupta for six years on charges of anti-party activities. Read more here3. Rajasthan: ATS arrests six for smuggling Atomic materialThe Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan has busted an Atomic smuggling racket, in a joint operation with the Intelligence Bureau, arresting six people. Read more here4. On World Water Day find out how ‘water friendly’ you areThis year, ‘Ek Boondh Pani’ is conducting a Water Personality Test on World Water Day on March 22. Read more here5. Hockey India announces squad for Azlan Shah Cup, star players missing from the line-upHockey India on Monday announced an 18-member Indian team led by Sardar Singh that will take part in the 25th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 6 to 16. Read more here6. In Pictures: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ marks grand premiere in Big AppleStars of the highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice including Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck showed for the movie’s premiere, along with several celebrities like Will Smith. Read more here

We see Ambedkar the same way the world sees Martin Luther King Jr: Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed BR Ambedkar at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the BR Ambedkar National Memorial in New Delhi and said that Ambedkar was to Indians what Martin Luther King, Jr was to the world.

“Sometimes, we insult Babsaheb Ambedkar by limiting him to his work for Dalits. But he worked for all oppressed people,” PM Modi said. “We see Ambedkar the same way the world sees Martin Luther King,” he added. He also called Ambedkar a “Vishwa Manav”.

PM Narendra Modi said BR Ambedkar worked for all the oppressed people, not just Dalits. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi said BR Ambedkar worked for all the oppressed people, not just Dalits. Reuters

Promising the people that the Ambedkar Memorial will be established by 14 April, 2018, Modi further said, “26, Alipur Road will be an iconic building of Delhi and for us, it will be a source of inspiration.”

Modi also said that Ambedkar worked for social unity and equality of the country the same way Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel worked for political unity of India.

“Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, through his political wisdom, created a united Bharat Mata… Ambedkar, through constitutional means, worked for social equality and unity in the country,” he said.

The PM also said that Ambedkar had left the Congress government of his times because the then government was taken aback by his progressive ideas for women empowerment.

“History is sometimes diluted or suppressed in our nation,” PM Modi said, explaining why many people would not know about Ambedkar leaving the then government.

“The government of those times was taken aback by Ambedkar’s ideas for women empowerment. It was because the government rejected Ambedkar’s ideas for women empowerment that he left the government of that time,” Modi further said.

“Thus, if I limit Ambedkar’s contribution to Dalits, what will happen to 50 percent of the population in India?” Modi said, referring to the women in India.

“Babasaheb Ambedkar was the masiha (messiah) of all the labourers in the country,” the PM further said. “If there is a central foundation for labour laws in India, that foundation is because of Ambedkar,” he added.

Modi then said that Ambedkar’s absence from the then government was felt even today as he had made great plans for working on the country’s maritime strength and power generation.

“Ambedkar understood the maritime strength of India and wanted to take it forward,” he said. “There is a bill on waterways in Parliament. But let me tell you that this is the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” he added. “Ambedkar had one message for the society: to get educated. It is like an inner power and he showed the way in that regard,” Modi said, adding that Ambedkar’s other messages also included working for unity and human rights.

“It is our duty to follow the path of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also took a dig at the Congress and other Opposition leaders who had suggested that the BJP government was trying to get rid of reservation.

“Some people do not even want to see us. They get a fever when they see us. That’s why they spread lies,” he said. “When the Vajpayee government was formed, people were scared that reservation was going to be abolished. But nothing of that sort happened…This is a right that nobody can snatch,” he said.

“Lies are being spread even today because some people are only engaging in politics,” Modi said. “We can never strengthen the nation by making the society weak,” he added.

“Ambedkar’s actions were never driven by politics, but by love for the society and the nation,” he said. “If Baba Saheb had served in the government for longer time, he could’ve done 60 years before what I did today,” he added.

Modi also said that Ambedkar never had any bitterness towards some sections of the society for the injustice he had to face. “It is natural to seek revenge for any wrongdoing. But Ambedkar never had any bitterness in his words for the injustice against him,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said that despite Ambedkar’s grand plans for power generation in India, there were many villages which still did not have electricity. “Sixty years after Ambedkar created a structure for power generation in India, we still have villages which have no electricity,” Modi said. He promised that his government would work to provide electricity to villages.

Tamil Nadu: Dalit leader objects to casteism, found dead a day later

Days after a Dalit youth was brutally hacked to death in a suspected case of honour killing in Tirupur district, the body of 45-year-old Dalit leader was found floating in a well in Chellampalayam in the district on Sunday police said. They said an upper caste person had reportedly “abused” a 19-year old Dalit boy by his caste name when he was at the premises of a temple in Thingalur in Erode district yesterday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chinnasamy, leader of an outfit named ‘Dalit Viduthalai Katchi’ objected to this, police said. Chinnasamy’s body was found floating in a well in Chellampalayam this morning and was brought to the Government Hospital for post-mortem. Tension prevailed at the hospital when activists of various organisations fighting for the cause of Dalits and human rights gathered after Chinnasamy’s family members refused to allow post-mortem, seeking a fair probe into the incident, which they claimed was mysterious, police said.However, the protesters dispersed after senior district and police officials assured them that necessary steps would be taken. On March 13, Shankar (22) and Kausalya (19), whose inter-caste marriage was opposed by their families, were attacked by a bike-borne gang with sickles in full public view in nearby Tirupur district, resulting in the death of Shankar. Kausalya is presently undergoing treatment at the government hospital here under police protection. Five persons have been already arrested in this connection.

Rohith Vemula Protests: Full Text of IIMC professor Amit Sengupta’s resignation letter

Amit Sengupta, an Associate Professor in the department of English Journalism, quit after an order was issued transferring him to the premier media school’s campus in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district, which he slammed as a “political decision”.”I have been targeted because I supported the solidarity protest for Rohith Vemula in the campus, organised independently by students of IIMC in which other faculty members too participated… I have been targeted also because I supported the JNU and FTII students,” Sengupta wrote in his resignation letter. Refuting allegations of politically targeting the IIMC faculty, a senior Information and Broadcasting Ministry official claimed that certain acts of Sengupta suggesting “indiscipline” had come to the notice of the authorities including his attempts to “politicise” the campus through posts on social media.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s the full text of his resignation letter:To,The OSDIIMC, New DelhiSub: Resignation LetterDear Mr Anurag MisraThis is with reference to your letter posting me to Dhenkanal, Orissa. This letter was issued without any discussion with me or any faculty member. This violates every principle of academic freedom and autonomy of IIMC. You have reduced IIMC into a hand-maiden of a vicious, undemocratic and partisan regime.I presume that this is a clear case of victimisation. If this is the way the faculty is treated then your administration has willfully chosen to dump the fundamental ethics of the Indian Constitution, and the dignity of the teaching profession. Certainly, this is part of a larger witch-hunt against intellectual freedom, academic autonomy and professional excellence, to target and eliminate individuals who this regime has declared as enemies for reasons only they know.I am also aware that I have been targeted because I supported the solidarity protest for Rohith Vemula in the campus, organized independently by students of IIMC in which other faculty members too participated. I am proud of standing up for Rohith Vemula, and will continue to do so in the days to come. This is my constitutional right. I think grave injustice has been done to him and the students of the Hyderabad Central University. I will always stand and fight for Dalit rights.I have also been targeted because I supported the JNU and FTII students. I think both the struggles are glorious and the country will enrich itself with the great leap of imagination and the brilliant content of the peaceful, democratic debate the students and faculty of these great institutions have generated. It was an honour for me, as a former JNUSU president, to address the open air gathering of faculty and students of JNU, in which the finest of minds in India and abroad have participated.I am proud of being part of the great intellectual and political tradition of JNU, which cultivates independent critical thinking, open windows of enlightenment and pluralist and secular doors of perception, aligned with the poor, the Dalits, the adivasis, the minorities, and backward and marginalized sections of Indian society. You have not only targeted me, therefore, you have targeted the basic values of our progressive Constitution.In IIMC I have perhaps taken the maximum number of lectures/workshops, like many of my learned faculty members. I have taught my students that they will never do journalism which professes xenophobia, casteism, sexism, racism, and communalism. That they should be objective and impartial. Also, that they should have open-ended, non-dogmatic and independent minds, and stand for truth and public interest, come what may. I presume I am paying a price for that.I refuse to accept your arbitrary and unethical posting. Truth will stand with me.I hereby resign from IIMC in protest.I wish you and IIMC well.Sincerely, Amit SenguptaAssociate Professor, English Journalism, IIMC, New DelhiMarch 4, 2016

Revealed: Umar Khalid’s connection with Kashmir

Some 10 years ago, Umar Khalid’s little less known passion had led him to Kashmir. It was in Srinagar where he had dreamed to represent the state’s under-19 cricket team, even though he wasn’t a native of Jammu and Kashmir. His father, Syed Qasim Illyas Rasool, had many friends working as government officials back then and it was because of them that Umar managed to play some district level matches.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Umar wanted to play for India when he was young but with the competition in Delhi being tough, some of my friends suggested that he travels to Kashmir and play some matches there for exposure.”I am told he performed very well there and was even supported by the coaches who wanted him to represent Kashmir at state level. However being a non-Kashmiri limited his chances to represent Jammu and Kashmir team,” Syed Qasim told dna.Now a 28-year-old, and a student of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, Umar finds his fate intertwined with that of Kashmir.A sedition case was filed against unknown persons for allegedly participating in “anti-national” activities and Umar was one of the persons which Delhi police accuses of raising anti-India slogans during an event organised to mark the hanging of 2001 Parliament convict Afzal Guru.His father however seems to be sure that Umar was not the one raising slogans. ” I know my son and his ideology very well. We have had multiple discussion in the past and one thing that I am sure of is that my son never has or never will go against the interests of the people of India,” said Qasim.He said the days his son had ‘disappeared’ were some of the most disturbing ones in his life. “He was being projected as someone dangerous. We received death threats and what not. Friends of my youngest daughter have stopped talking to her and my other daughters have received all sorts of threats but my biggest fear was of Umar getting caught by a mob just like the one that attacked Kanhaiya,” Qasim added.Qasim said that initially his family was reluctant to speak to the media but soon he had made up his mind. “It was important for me to counter lies like Umar had traveled to Pakistan or that he is a Jaish sympathiser,” he said.Qasim added that he would have found such allegations funny had it not been seriousness of the issue. This is because of the fact Umar has for years been an atheist and a communist – something which his family continues to disapprove.According to the family the Batla house encounter and the subsequent stereotyping of the Muslims of Jamia Nagar area had prompted Umar to critique identity politics.”We had many arguments but I wasn’t concerned because I felt he was young. Umar’s mother however was a different story altogether,” Qasim said.Umar’s mother who hasn’t been interacting with the media as much opened up to dna after meeting her eldest child at the RK Puram police station on Sunday.”I wanted him to come back to Islam but he wouldn’t agree. First we had many discussions and debates which were followed by arguments and finally I stopped speaking to him directly. My relatives suggested that I shouldn’t boycott him and I also believed so but I couldn’t see my child so far removed from out family,” said Umar’s mother is a Bachelor of Unani Medicine & Surgery doctor.Umar began to have heated arguments with Muslim leaders.”Whenever Umar saw anyone trouble he would jump to his feet to help but he didn’t want himself to be only recognised as a Muslim. He would tell us and the community leaders to stand with the poor of this country, with the Dalits, with minorities and the oppressed women,” said the mother. “Never had I imagined he would get into so much trouble for speaking his mind,” she added.She said on January 29, Umar had come home to attend the engagement ceremony of one of her five sisters. This was her last meeting with her son before finally getting to see him in jail.”I didn’t talk to him much that day even though I desperately wanted to do so. After guests had left, I pulled him back and told him that his nails were long and they needed to be cut. He placed his hands in mine and when I was done cutting the nails, I proceeded to touch his feet. A parent touching the feet of her child made him uncomfortable and he began saying that he will wear socks to conceal the long nails. But I told him to be quite,” said Umar’s mother trying to hold back her tears.”I won’t cry because Umar has been telling us not to do so. His aunt, grandmother, everyone are worried but Umar has been asking me to tell them not to worry,” she said.When asked what else had Umar told her during the visit to the police station she said,”Be brave. He told me to be brave.

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