Dalit MP Savitri Bai Phule quits BJP over ‘ignoring community’s issues’
BJP’s Dalit MP from Uttar Pradesh, Savitri Bai Phule resigned from the party on Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary on Thursday after accusing the BJP of ignoring Dalit issues. Immediately after sending her resignation to BJP chief Amit Shah, she told HT on phone that several other Dalit and OBC MPs from the BJP were in touch with her and might quit soon.
Phule’s letter questioning BJP’s commitment to reservation in April, a charge she repeated on Thursday, had resulted in several other Dalit MPs writing to BJP accusing it of neglecting them and their issues.
The youngest Dalit MP in Lok Sabha, 37-year-old Phule is expected to announce her next political move at a rally in Lucknow’s Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan on December 23.
“We are expecting two lakh people at the rally,” said Phule’s aide Ranjeet Kumar. A first time lawmaker from Balha in 2012, she had become an MP from Bahraich in 2014 on a BJP ticket. She had previously been in the BSP and some political leaders indicated that she had feelers from the Samajwadi Party.
The BJP reacted cautiously to her resignation. “We have always been championing cause of the Dalits. It’s not for nothing that today we have maximum Dalit MLAs and MPs and our Dalit support is growing,” said UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak. He, however, added, “All that I would like to say is several people, including Dalit and OBC leaders from other parties, are also in touch with us.”
Soon after sending her resignation, Phule also held a press conference in Lucknow where she attacked the BJP.
Her resignation came in the middle of BJP’s Dalit connect initiatives in UP which have seen the party holding meetings with all Dalit subcastes in the state capital.
“I have been raising Dalit issues in Lok Sabha since 2014, but since I come from a marginalised community, my voice was always ignored. That’s why I have decided to quit the party. I have raised the same issues in the state capital too,” she said.
Two days back Phule had taken on chief minister Yogi Adityanath over his alleged ‘Hanuman a Dalit’ remark saying if Lord Hanuman was indeed a Dalit, then the community should get right over his temples. She had also described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cleanliness campaign or ‘swacchta abhiyaan’ a sham.