With Dalit votes in mind ahead of approaching assembly and Lok Sabha polls, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi took a dig at BSP chief Mayawati saying she was not allowing other Dalit leaders to grow.
Speaking at a function on empowerment of Scheduled Castes in New Delhi on Tuesday, Gandhi slammed Mayawati for hijacking the space of Dalit leadership and promised to groom a chain of Dalit leaders from the panchayat to the national level.
“Mayawati has captured the leadership and she has prevented the emergence of any Dalit leader. The Dalit leadership has come to a standstill,” Gandhi said.
He then went on explain the rate of progress of Dalits using the concept of escape velocity of planets. Escape velocity is the speed at which an object needs to travel to break free from a planet’s gravity. Jupiter requires the highest escape velocity among all planets.
“The escape velocity of Jupiter is 60 km/sec and Dalits need this escape velocity. (Babasaheb) Ambedkar was the first person who gained escape velocity and went to America. This was the first stage of Dalit movement and when he came back he worked on the Constitution and reservations with Congress Party,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi added that Dalits need that speed to free themselves from the clutches of the caste system to harness their true potential.
Though the Congress vice president was critical of Mayawati, he hailed her mentor Kanshiram’s role. He said the Dalit ideologue provided escape velocity to the community and many people benefitted from it.
The Congress leader said if the movement for escape velocity has to be taken forward it needs the participation of lakhs of Dalit leaders.
Gandhi, who had earlier spent nights in dailt huts and broken breads with them, will be travelling to Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday to address two crucial rallies.
Gandhi will address his first maha-panchayat style gathering after the 2012 Uttar Pradesh polls. His twin rallies at Aligarh and Rampur, claims Congress sources, will mark a renewed focus on Uttar Pradesh ahead of the polls. Incidentally, Aligarh is represented by BSP in the current Lok Sabha.