BJP Dalit MP trains gun at party again over reservation
Three days after she accused her party leadership of conspiring to abolish quota, Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bahraich Savitri Bai Phule held on Sunday a rally in the state capital where she repeated her charges.
She also slammed her party’s government in Uttar Pradesh for “failing” to control the repeated targeting of Ambedkar statues in the state.
In the last three days, three Ambedkar statues have been damaged, the latest being in Hathras where the district administration hastily got it replaced after Jatavs, the Dalit subcaste to which BSP chief Mayawati belongs, registered a strong protest on Sunday. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier expressed his disapproval of the manner in which Ambdekar statues were being targeted in the state.
Phule’s anti-BJP pitch at the rally, where she repeatedly embarrassed her own party, is being viewed in the BJP as “pressure tactics” by the Dalit MP, who also runs an NGO that fights for women rights.
“I may or may not remain an MP but I will not tolerate any attempts to water down quota that was conceived by Baba Sahib for empowering the Bahujan Samaj,” said Phule at her thinly attended rally at Smriti Upavan in Ashiyana Lucknow.
Phule is a Pasi, the second most numerically significant Dalit subcaste after Jatavs.
The BJP is in the middle of an exercise to review performance of its MPs in the most populous state. The buzz is that several sitting party MPs could either be replaced or shifted to other seats by the party leadership to beat anti-incumbency factor and Phule’s anti-BJP pitch is said to be timed at deterring the party from denying her a ticket for the next Lok Sabha polls.
A BJP leader who followed her rally speech, however, said that perhaps Phule might have even decided to move out of the BJP.
“May be she is trying to deftly time her exit in a manner where she is seen as having sacrificed the post for the cause of Dalits. She accused the BJP of trying to end quota, spoke of damage to Ambedkar statues and then rounded off her speech by claiming that our government is trying to encourage privatisation in a big way as a ploy to end reservation,” a BJP leader requesting anonymity said.
She even got the rallyists to take a pledge to ‘oppose the BJP’ for its attempts to dilute quota and growing disrespect for Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
Her attack on the BJP comes even as her party is gearing up to target the growing SP-BSP bonhomie in the state. BJP ally and RPI leader Ram Das Athavale, a Dalit, has already said that the SP-BSP pact could make the BJP lose several seats in UP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Another BJP ally, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party’s chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, an OBC subcaste of influence in eastern UP, too is critical of the BJP. Rajbhar has planned a rally in Deoria on April 10 when BJP chief Amit Shah is expected in the state capital.
The BJP hasn’t reacted yet to Phule’s ‘rebel’ act.