Prominent Dalit leaders of Uttar Pradesh–the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Azad Samaj Party (ASP) chief Chandrashekhar Azad–have come down strongly on the Bharatiya Janata Party for what they allege a move to befool the Scheduled Caste voters of the state just ahead of the next year’s Assembly election.
Their criticism came just after President Ramnath Kovind laid the foundation stone of Ambedkar Memorial near state Assembly in Lucknow on Tuesday (June 29). UP governor Anandiben Patel and chief minister Yogi Adityanath were among those present on the occasion. It was only on June 25 last that the Yogi cabinet gave its approval for the construction of this memorial which has been named as Ambedkar Cultural Centre.
A 25 feet statue of Bhimrao Ambedkar costing around Rs 45 crore will be installed here. The memorial will include a museum, library and an auditorium with a capacity of 750 people.
However, both the BSP and ASP have questioned as to why the Yogi government was reminded about the Dalits just on the eve of the election.
Mayawati tweeted four times on the issue and called the move as ‘natakbaazi’ (drama) of the BJP.
It needs to be mentioned that when Yogi was in Delhi early this month, he had met President Kovind, who incidentally is a Dalit from Kanpur district of the state.
Dalits form 21.3 per cent of the population of Uttar Pradesh and had largely been voting for the BSP since 1990s. But since 2014 Lok Sabha poll the situation started changing.
However, it was in the 2017 Assembly election that the BJP virtually swept the reserved seats. Out of 86 SC-ST reserved seats it won 76, while the Samajwadi Party seven and the BSP only two. The rest one seat was won by an independent candidate.
With the BSP in a shambles, the BJP is trying its level best to rope in the Dalit votes this time too. On the other hand, ASP leader Chandrashekhar Azad is trying to forge an alliance with Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal and pose a challenge to both BSP and BJP in west UP.
Though there is no dearth of statues and other institutions named after the Father of the Indian Constitution yet the BJP, by such exercises, is trying to fill the vacuum created by the weakening of Mayawati.