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RSS to pay tribute to Ambedkar to take forward its Dalit outreach

The Sangh Parivar has been often accused of trying to integrate Dalits under the broad Hindutva umbrella by appropriating the legacy of the biggest Dalit icon

india Updated: Apr 14, 2017 11:56 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BR Ambedkar,Dalit icon,RSS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen paying floral tribute before laying foundation stone for Dr. BR. Ambedkar National memorial in New Delhi last year. (PTI File Photo )

The Rashtriya Swayamsevask Sangh (RSS) will take part in a government function to pay tribute to BR Ambedkar on his 126th birth anniversary celebration in Parliament on Friday to take forward its Dalit outreach.

The ministry of social justice and empowerment has invited V Bhagaiah, a Sah Karyavaha (joint secretary) of the RSS to take part in the tribute ceremony to be held at Ambedkar’s statue in Parliament precincts.

The RSS is the ideological fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Sangh Parivar has been often accused of trying to integrate Dalits under the broad Hindutva umbrella by appropriating the legacy of their biggest icon amid growing atrocities in the country against the community.

Bhaigaih heads the Samajik Samarasta (social harmony) initiative of the Sangh, which is pivoted around the theme of ‘one temple, one cremation ground and one well,’ which aims at unifying Hindu society by ending discrimination against Dalits and others.

The BJP-led NDA government at the centre is pulling out all the stops to celebrate in a grand manner the 126th anniversary of the Dalit icon and principal architect of the Constitution, who fought against caste-based discrimination.

The Sangh too has drawn up separate plans to mark the occasion in a bid to propagate how it was pursuing Ambedkar’s idea of a casteless society.

“The Samajik Samarasta programmes started by the Sangh have begun to show results. In many villages Dalits are no longer barred from entering temples and our karyakartas visit Dalit families during festivities. There is still a long way to go, but a beginning has been made,” a senior RSS functionary told HT.

The Sangh’s Dalit outreach has been credited with enabling the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, where the party managed to overcome caste fault lines to emerge as the single-largest party.

The Sangh’s focused attention on ending caste-based discrimination is in sync with the BJP’s ambition to expand its footprint in the southern states where castes fissures run deep.

Though Sangh leaders, including its head, Mohan Bhagwat have been accused of making anti-reservation statements, by calling for a review of quotas, the Sangh has been assiduously wooing the Dalits and other backward castes.

It also dismisses allegations that it has appropriated the legacy of Ambedkar, who converted to Buddhism in protest against the caste-based discrimination, and woos Dalits only to coalesce the Hindus.

Senior Sangh leaders such as Krishna Gopal are among the functionaries who are actively involved in changing the perception that the nationalist outfit is dominated by the so-called upper castes.

First Published: Apr 13, 2017 20:51 IST