Congress leaders invoked Rohith Vemula once again on Tuesday, at the conclusion of the party’s ‘Dalit Shiksha-Suraksha aur Swabhiman’ (Dalit education, security and self-respect) yatras. Party workers, gathered at the UP Congress Committee (UPCC) headquarters, raised ‘Jai Bheem’ slogans.
Vemula was a student of the University of Hyderabad who had committed suicide on January 17, 2016.
Raking up the suicide, UPCC president Raj Babbar lambasted the Centre for “neglecting the downtrodden classes”.
“January 17 is not far away. Rohith Vemula gave his life on this day for his self-respect, security and rights. Unfortunately, the Union government appeared interested in knowing his caste instead of taking care of his education, security and self-respect,” said Babbar, addressing party workers.
Babbar quoted Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to emphasise his point that over the years, the grand old party had lost its connect with the Dalits. “Rahul had often asked workers why the party failed in getting leaders like the late Jagjivan Ram,” he said. “The party’s SC/ST department has been working to develop Dalit leadership on Rahul’s directives,” Babbar added.
Attacking BJP, Babbar said that Rahul was mocked when he referred to Kalavati (widow of a Vidarbha farmer, who had been visited by the Congress vice-president). “Those who used to laugh at Rahul for referring to Kalavati are now moving with water bottles and cooks to have food at Dalit households,” he said.
The UPCC’s SC/ST department had launched these yatras to “remove misgivings about the party among Dalits” and take Congress’ programmes to the 2,800 Dalit-dominated villages in the 85 reserved assembly constituencies of the state.
Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP, PL Punia, said, “About 130 yatras were launched on December 4, 2016. They covered a distance of 3.5 lakh kilometres in 40 days. The yatras were a big hit and will help in strengthening the Congress in UP.”
- Free education from KG to PG
- Rs 1,000 per month for Dalit students residing in hostels
- A residential school for Dalit students in every block - on the pattern of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya
- A ‘suraksha mitra’ in every police station area to ensure justice and rehabilitation for Dalit victims
- Ambedkar Arogyashree scheme (up to Rs 2 lakh) for free treatment of Dalit families at government and private hospitals
- A house for every farm labourer
- Rs 3 lakh loan without guarantee for Dalit youths to start their businesses
- A ‘vikas mitra’ in every block to ensure that benefits of welfare schemes reach Dalits