A senior functionary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday flayed the Centre as well as state governments’ social justice and empowerment programmes for their “failure to address” issues such as timely release of scholarships for Dalit students.
The castigation comes at a time when the BJP-led NDA government at the centre is going all out to woo Dalits.
V. Bagaiah, who heads the Samajik Samarasta (social harmony) programme of the right-wing organisation pointed out that the post-matric scholarships offered to Scheduled Caste students have not been released for 2016-17.
But none of the leaders, including those who represent the Dalits, has raised a voice, said the RSS leader.
“How can a student live (without timely scholarships)? Why can’t the government provide land to the landless? What is stopping them?” he told HT on the sidelines of a function organised to mark the 126th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar.
He said the failure to ensure adequate funds for education and health care and diversion of funds meant for special component plan and tribal sub plan manifested the states’ failure to protect the rights of the Dalits.
The BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS, have been on an overdrive to get support of the so-called lower castes after being accused by the Opposition of being anti-Dalit, in the wake of the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad Central University and flogging of Dalits in Gujarat’s Una last year.
While the RSS has been campaigning against casteism through its campaign for ‘one temple, one cremation ground and one well,’ the BJP relied heavily on social engineering by giving lower castes significant representation in the recently concluded assembly polls.
The Sangh leader said political parties that claim to be ideologically moored to Ambedkar’s legacy have not helped the cause of the Dalits.
“Political and social organisations that claims to have been working exclusively for the empowerment of the Scheduled Castes outnumber others, yet there is no justice for the people from the communities,” he said.
Bagaiah, who holds the position of joint general secretary in the Sangh, said even Ambedkar used to question what Dalit leaders have done for their community, adding ground realities have not changed even today.
He mentioned the case of Telangana where the funds under SC and ST sub plans were not released in full and the remaining diverted to various other schemes in violation of the SC, ST Sub Plan Act 2013.
“It’s not only the Centre. There is TMC in West Bengal, AAP in Delhi… I am not targeting any particular government,” he said.
Citing the example of government-run schools, where the quality of education is not up to the mark, he said it is also the responsibility of the civil society to demand social auditing of the funds marked for education, healthcare and other development works.
“We just move from election to election…there are different governments, but what we need is institutional change…if any book or religion says untouchability exists, it should not be adhere to,” he added.