In another overt attempt to woo the Dalit vote in Punjab, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday visited the birthplace of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder late Kanshi Ram, where he termed the AAP as the “real political party fighting for justice for Dalits”. He also sought the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, for Kanshi Ram, whose sister Swaran Kaur was present at the function and was addressed as “bhua” (father’s sister) by Kejriwal.
He termed Kanshi Ram as “the only visionary Dalit leader who turned the dreams of BR Ambedkar into reality by uniting the Dalits, giving them various benefits and making Dalits politically sound... He deserves the Bharat Ratna, and AAP MP Bhagwant Mann will raise the issue in Parliament, while our party will raise it in the public domain.”
Saying that BJP “has an allergy with the Dalit community”, he also raised the issue of Hyderabad student leader Rohit Vemula’s suicide and some other incidents. He claimed that the RSS “demands scrapping of the reservation system”. “Let me assure you, I will fight till death but won’t allow the RSS to succeed in this anti-Dalit move. Reservation is a right given by Constitution, which Dalits got after a long fight and was provided by BR Ambedkar,” he announced.
“Only the AAP can provide equal opportunity, rights and political share to the Dalits,” he added.
At same time he raised the Abohar murder case, and declared, “The AAP is set to form the government in Punjab and will form a special investigation team for all cases of Dalit atrocities by the SAD-BJP regime.”
He also invited Swaran Kaur and other members of the Kanshi Ram Charitable Foundation to Delhi to discuss the problems of Dalits of Punjab.
Swaran Kaur said that she welcomed Kejriwal as he had shown the desire to visit the birthplace of her brother. “I am happy that he has especially travelled to Punjab for paying tributes to Kanshi Ram on his birth anniversary,” she said. When asked about Kejriwal beong from the upper caste Bania community, she attacked Mayawati and said, “Whosoever, be it a Bania, Jat or anybody from any other community, will work for Dalits is a follower of Kanshi Ram. What do I have to do with Mayawati and other Dalit leaders who did nothing for the ideology of Kanshi Ram?”
Kanshi Ram’s siblings have been walking different paths, though — two brothers running their own party and another sister supporting Mayawati.
After the function, Kejriwal visited Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib where the head granthi presented him with a siropa (robe of honour) and also visited at least two Dalit-centric deras in Jalandhar region later in the day.