Rahul woos Dalits, attacks Mayawati, Modi govt

Rahul woos Dalits, attacks Mayawati, Modi govt

Wooing dalits ahead of the 2017 UP Assembly polls, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today said it wants to develop a young Dalit leadership in all states and attacked BSP supremo Mayawati for not "encouraging Dalit leadership" to keep a "firm grip on power".

He also attacked the Modi government, accusing it of "killing" Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar from Hyderabad university, whose suicide triggered a nationwide outrage.

"Mayawati did not properly utilise the platform provided by Kanshi Ram. She did not encourage Dalit leadership in the party in a bid to keep a firm grip on power," he told party's conclave on "Dalit leadership development convention" at UPCC office here.

"I see a difference between Kanshi Ram and Mayawati... Kanshi Ram did a lot of good work for the Dalits .... when she became chief minister she suppressed and crushed Dalit leadership. She did not allow any Dalit leader to move upward," he said.

"Congress wants to bring Dalits into its fold and give them an opportunity not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in other states. It wants to develop young leadership of Dalits," Rahul said.

"Dalits are asking themselves that they have not got the desired results...they have a question for the Congress and that is whether it will give Dalit youths and leaders a place in the party. I believe that if Congress holds their hand, UP will be a different place altogether," he said.

Congress and Ambedkar framed Constitution and the right of 'one man one vote' was given to the people but still a lot of work remains to be done though a lot has been done, he said.

"Mayawati failed to ensure proper benefit to the Dalits. She did not promote young Dalit leadership when she became the Chief Minister. She tried to crush and suppress Dalit leadership and attempted to concentrate all power in her hand," he alleged.

Claiming that the Dalit youth are now "frightened" by Mayawati's leadership, he said this presents an opportunity before the Congress. Congress now wants to give them the space to transform Uttar Pradesh, he said.

"We want to invite you (Dalit youths) to Congress and give you powers because you have not progressed the way you should have," he said.

BSP's emergence on the Uttar Pradesh's political landscape led to gradual erosion of the solid Dalit vote base of the Congress, which it is trying to regain.

Recalling his recent visit to Hyderabad after Vemula's suicide, Rahul said, "Rohith was killed by the government of India. He was supressed by the government and forced to commit suicide. An RSS man is heading the institution there and voice of Rohith was not heard."

The Congress leader alleged that the Modi government wanted to do away with welfare schemes lauched by the previous UPA government.

"In the ten years of UPA rule, Congress gave right to employment, food and information, besides giving rights to adivisis...farmers' loans were waived...these programmes were aimed at strengthening the poor..we never asked under the MNREGS the caste or relgion of the beneficiaries or where you belong to," he added.  

Attacking BJP and RSS, Rahul said they were trying to "hamper progress" of the country by "imposing" their ideology but Congress would not let that happen.

"BJP and RSS are trying to hamper growth of the country by imposing their ideology. Congress is fighting with RSS and it will not let it succeed in its designs," Rahul said.

He said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not like MNREGS scheme launched by UPA, his Finance Minister Arun Jaitely says "there is not such programme like MNREGS".

"I asked Jaitley that Modiji termed it a bad scheme, while you consider it a good one. Why you don't say this outside. We will save MNREGS and fight for rights of the minorities and Dalits," he said.

He also alleged that BJP and RSS were trying to impose their ideology on the education system, too.  

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