Gujarat speaker calls Dalit icon Ambedkar, PM Modi ‘Brahmins’, faces flak
Gujarat assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi has described Dalit icon BR Ambedkar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “Brahmins”, claiming that any learned person could be called so.
Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and the Opposition Congress have slammed Trivedi for his remarks.
“I have no hesitation in saying that Ambedkar was also a Brahmin because his surname, a Brahmin surname, was given to him by his teacher, who was a Brahmin.
“There is nothing wrong in calling a learned person a Brahmin and in that context, I would say that even (Prime Minister) Modiji (an OBC) is a Brahmin,” Trivedi had said, addressing the “Mega Brahmin Business Summit” at Gandhinagar on Sunday.
Trivedi, a Brahmin, was elected as an MLA from Raopura in Vadodara district on a BJP ticket in last year’s assembly polls.
As his remarks triggered a controversy, Trivedi cited the Bhagavad Gita on Monday and said he was against casteism and that his statements were taken out of context.
“Lord Krishna has said in the Gita that caste should be based on the virtue one holds, not as per one’s birth. Thus, anyone can be called a Brahmin by virtue of his knowledge.
“My speech was taken out of context. Otherwise, I am totally against casteism,” he said when contacted.
Objecting to Trivedi’s remarks, Mevani said the speaker was not authorised to issue a caste certificate to Ambedkar, who had fought his entire life against casteism.
“This statement of Trivedi shows his upper-casteist mindset. What authority does he have to issue a certificate to Ambedkar, who had struggled all his life to eradicate casteism?
“Ambedkar had never wished to be a Brahmin. He actually wanted to see a society free of castes,” the Independent MLA, who was elected to the Assembly with the Congress’ support last year, said.
“Since Trivedi was associated with the RSS, he would never understand the teachings of Ambedkar. I condemn his remarks,” Mevani added.
The Congress slammed Trivedi for making “irresponsible” statements and said the ruling BJP and its leaders remembered Ambedkar only to get Dalit votes.
“It is a serious matter when a person occupying such a high position makes such irresponsible statements for a great person like Ambedkar. The BJP and its leaders remember him only to get Dalit votes,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.