Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took on the BJP in the Prime Minister’s home turf on Thursday, accusing the Anandiben Patel government of Gujarat as “being complicit” in last Monday’s brutal attack on five Dalit youths at village Samadhaliya in the state’s Una tehsil while lashing out against the party for its “anti-Dalit” position.
A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit, Kejriwal arrived at the dusty village to promise a countrywide campaign against the party’s “anti-backward” policies.
If it takes a human tragedy for politicians to visit remote Dalit homes, Samadhaliya’s list of VIP arrivals has been growing. After Gandhi and Kejriwal, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Union minister Ram Das Athawale are among those scheduled to arrive.
At the one-roomed dwelling of Balubhahai Sarowya — father of two of the six Dalits publicly flogged by a Hindu vigilante group — the stream of visitors has remained unending.
Since VIP visits have become inevitable, villagers have been attending to housekeeping issues. A makeshift rug to provide seating arrangements has been arranged and a few plastic chairs have also sprung up. Tiny plastic cups of tea are in circulation while a visitor’s notebook had been arranged for at Sarowya’s house. Kejriwal was seen noting down his mobile and other contact numbers in it.
Since it is not often that the administration reaches the village, the villagers have been trying to make the best of the opportunity. An old lady was seen petitioning a local official to resolve her long pending land dispute. A gaggle of youth was heard providing details of bootlegging activities from the nearby Union Territory of Diu to another. One villager was heard making passionate pleas on the need to set up a dispensary in the village; another’s concern was about the need to install more numbers of solar lights.
For his part, Kejriwal kept to the script. “My information was that police batons were used. The state administration, police and the vigilante groups — they are functioning as a team. Atrocities against Dalits, with the knowledge and even at the behest of the BJP government, is happening across Gujarat. But the state government takes no action.”