Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally to mark 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar on April 14 in Mhow is expected to be an image makeover exercise by the BJP, which is considered pro-industrialists.
With eye on the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, which has about 21% Dalit population, the BJP sees the Ambedkar birth anniversary as a big opportunity to engage with the people he spoke for, including the rural poor.
Madhya Pradesh’s BJP unit also seeks to use the occasion to draw more Dalits to its fold as SCs, STs and OBCs form 34% of voters in the state that has no Dalit leader with mass appeal.
“If we don’t have a Dalit leader to match BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), at least we can have maximum Dalits in our fold,” a senior BJP leader said wishing anonymity.
Modi may announce schemes aimed at socio-economic uplift of SCs, OBCs
To be observed as ‘Samajik Samrasata Divas’ (social harmony day), the party’s national leadership has asked the state BJP unit to ensure maximum presence of Dalits and other backward castes in Mhow from where Prime Minister Modi is expected to announce schemes aimed at socio-economic uplift of SCs and OBCs.
Mhow is the birthplace of Ambedkar.
State BJP vice president Anju Makhija said there is no fixed target given to the state unit but every party leader has been told to bring all Dalits of their area to Mhow. “But there will be people of other castes also,” she said.
However, national BJP president Amit Shah’s message is clear: the gathering has to be impressive enough to launch the image makeover.
Modi also expected to announce Ambedkar Panch Teerth
In its attempt to change its image from pro-industrialists to party which cares for the poor, the party plans to invoke the legacy of Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s ideology of integral humanism and Antyodaya.
Modi is also expected to announce Ambedkar Panch Teerth connecting five places associated with Ambedkar as socio-economic pilgrimages, which can motivate downtrodden to overcome all odds like him. These places include his birthplace Mhow, his Alipur Road house in Delhi, Indu Mills in Dadar (Mumbai) where he was cremated, his London house where he stayed for higher education, and Nagpur where he converted to Buddhism.