All eyes on Modi to speak out on Dalits at Champaran

All eyes on Modi to speak out on Dalits at Champaran

As the BJP grapples with Dalit unrest within and outside, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Champaran in Bihar on Tuesday to take part in the concluding ceremony of Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations.

Modi would also meet 20,000 Swachhagrahis (cleanliness ambassadors) on the occasion to give out a message to nation on the importance of Swachha Bharat Abhiyan.

But, most importantly, focus will be on what Modi is likely to say when he addresses 20,000 Swachhagrahis at the Gandhi Maidan in Motihari, district headquarters of East Champaran. Mahatma Gandhi had launched the Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago, on April 10, 1917 against the Britishers to fight for the rights of farmers who were forced to undertake indigo cultivation.

With spurt in violence against Dalits and rising protest against the Supreme Court's order on the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, senior BJP leaders expect the PM to speak out on the issues affecting Dalits.

In his first remarks on Dalits on April 4, Modi had restricted himself to remarking that implementing Dr B R Ambedkar's ideals is the best way to serve his memory and "not doing politics on his name." But since then, there has been rumblings from within the BJP. Of the BJP's 282 MPs, 44 belong to the Scheduled Castes.

BJP MP Udit Raj on Saturday had alleged that members of the Dalit community were being tortured across the country after the violent protests held during the Bharat Bandh on April 2. Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phule, the Bahraich MP, alleged there was a systematic conspiracy to end reservation through privatisation. Chhote Lal Kharwar, who represents Robertsganj, UP wrote a letter to Modi stating that UP CM Yogi Adityanath had scolded him and thrown him out of his office. Ashok Kumar Dohrey in a letter to Modi wrote that Dalits were being targeted by the police and cases were registered against them after the April 2 Bharat Bandh.

Dr Yashwant Singh, the BJP's Lok Sabha member from Nagina in western Uttar Pradesh, said the government failed to deliver on the promises made to Dalits by the party.
However, another set of BJP's five Dalit MPs from UP backed Yogi Adityanath. They include Kaushal Kishore, Anshul Verma, Vinod Sonkar, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Bhola Singh who questioned the timing of such public outbursts outside party forums and claimed the CM had never misbehaved with them.

A day ago, Modi is said to have expressed his concern to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the situation in Uttar Pradesh. BJP chief Amit Shah will visit Lucknow on April 11 to have a first-hand assessment of the ground situation, BJP officials said.

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