The BJP and RSS have launched grand plans to embrace the legacy of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, hoping to woo scheduled caste voters in Bihar where elections are due this year and Uttar Pradesh that will go to the polls in 2017.
Sources say after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the ruling party is looking to manoeuvre the popularity of another national leader to consolidate its vote base following a crushing defeat in the Delhi elections in February.
A high-profile celebration of Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary is expected on April 14 by two RSS mouthpieces, Panchjanya and Organiser, while social justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot will share the dais with Sangh leader Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi and former Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav at an event in Delhi.
The underlying message: Ambedkar — a man of multifaceted talents who framed India’s constitution — belongs to all and not just one section of society.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, is slated to inaugurate a Rs 200-crore research centre and library dedicated to the life and message of the freedom fighter in Delhi on April 20.
“He was a man of many talents. He was the chairman of the drafting committee of our constitution, studied caste and had a sound grip on the economy and foreign policy,” said an RSS leader. “However, we haven’t done justice to him as a society.”
Aware of the immense appeal of Ambedkar among Dalits – who constitute 16% of India’s population — the RSS is leaving no stone unturned to make the celebrations eye-catching, sources said.
Followers of Ambedkar have been critical of Hinduism as well as non-Dalit parties and this was an attempt to reach out to them, they added.