BJP plans 22-day Abhiyan to counter anti-Dalit, anti-poor perception

Modi will take part in the outreach programme in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur on April 14, the birth anniversary of Ambedkar.

Battling perception that BJP is anti-Dalit and anti-poor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced a 22-day 'Gram Swaraj Abhiyan' from April 14 to "realise the dreams" of Mahatma Gandhi and Dalit icons B R Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule.

The Abhiyan is starting two days after all BJP MPs, including Modi, undertake a day-long fast on Thursday against the "obstructionist" attitude of the Opposition towards functioning of Parliament. It also comes as the government is on the backfoot with MPs raising their voice against the handling of Dalit issues and the violent clashes during the April 2 Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups to protest the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The Abhiyan, which will go on till May 5, was announced during Modi's audio bridge call with party's elected representatives - MPs, MLAs and local body representatives. Participants will spread out to the villages to create awareness about various central schemes and dispel notions that the Modi government acts against the interests of Dalits and other marginalised communities.

Modi will take part in the outreach programme in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur on April 14, the birth anniversary of Ambedkar.

Pep talk to partymen

During his interaction, Modi emphasised the need for countering the charges made by Congress and other Opposition parties after a Supreme Court verdict diluted the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

"BJP will expose the mindset of a handful of people who are frustrated after being out of power, and constantly conspiring to murder democracy by not letting Parliament to function," Modi said, adding he would have another round of interaction with BJP party workers through Narendra Modi App on April 22.

During his bridge call on Wednesday, the birth anniversary of Phule, Modi sought to emphasise his government's credentials in addressing the concerns of Dalits. He also emphasised the contributions of Phule.

As part of the Abhiyan, BJP will celebrate April 17 as Swachh Bharat Parv, April 20 as Ujwala Diwas, April 24 as Panchayati Raj Diwas, April 28 as Gram Shakti Abhiyan, April 30 as Ayushman Bharat Diwas, May 2 as Kisan Kalyan Karyashala and May 5 as Kaushal Vikas Mela.

Modi later addressed his Council of Ministers, where a presentation was made on the seven flagship programmes, including Swachch Bharat, Ujwala and Ujala schemes. Here also, he emphasised that the ministers should talk more about the programmes even as some senior ministers had indicated that they were not able to highlight it among Dalit communities as the nomenclature had a general ring.

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