A wave of recent attacks on Dalits by self-styled cow protectors have perturbed a new Union minister, who wants the Narendra Modi government to strictly implement laws and initiatives for the welfare of Scheduled Castes.
Ramdas Athawale, in an interview to The Indian Express, expressed shock that human lives are at risk amid vigilantes guarding an animal Hindus consider holy.
All the same, the Dalit leader, who recently became the minister of state for social justice and empowerment, does not trust all pro-downtrodden politicians, dubbing them opportunist and insincere.
Athawale, who has converted to Buddhism, condemned the July 11 assault on Dalits in a village in Gujarat bordering his native Maharashtra.
“Why do you kill human beings?” he asked gau rakshaks (cow protectors). The protectors, who attacked Muslim women in Madhya Pradesh too, should focus on cow safety, he said.
The 56-year-old president of the Republican Party of India (Athawale) said the BJP, which leads the NDA administration at the Centre, is no longer a “Brahmin-Baniya party”.
Also, the prime minister, “personally”, is not anti-Dalit, the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, said the BJP is “not scaring Dalits”, who have become “very strong now” in Uttar Pradesh after a senior leader of that party made a “dirty remark” against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati.
The Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, though, is not a “true Ambedkarite”, as she has not accepted Buddhism while “doing politics” over social reformer Babasaheb, the chief architect of India’s Constitution.
The Modi administration must necessarily spend 15% of budgetary allocation for SC plan, and ensure reservation for promotion in government jobs, Athawale said.
Also, in view of agitations for reservation by Jats, Patels, Thakurs and Marathas among others, “we should apply the creamy layer criteria and keep economically forward people out of the scheme”, he added.