Ambedkar Jayanti: How PM Modi won confidence of Dalits and Uttar Pradesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has managed to build a perception that he and the BJP are genuinely concerned about the Dalits. On Ambedkar Jayatni today, the prime minister will visit Nagpur, a town closely associated with BR Ambedkar.

On the 126th birth anniversary of the architect of Indian Constitution and Dalit icon Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today visit Nagpur and inaugurates a series of development projects.

PM Narendra Modi's selection of Nagpur on Ambedkar Jayanti is not random. Nagpur is closely associated with BR Ambedkar. It was in Nagpur that the country's first law minister had reverted to Buddhism with approximately 600,000 followers on October 14, 1956, which was Ashok Vijaya Dashami.

A sacred Buddhist monument called Deekshabhoomi is located where BR Ambedkar had reverted to the religion from Hinduism.

WOOING THE DALITS

PM Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and the party in general accord high importance not just to Ambedkar Jayanti but everything associated with the Dalit icon.

This has even paid off the BJP with the party upsetting all calculations of the other parties and winning the support of Dalits, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Dalits constitute about 17 per cent of the highest populous state in the country.

With the support of the Dalits, BJP had won 71 of the 80 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It also bagged 312 of the 403 seats in the recently held Assembly polls.

PM MODI'S PROGRAMMES FOR AMBEDKAR JAYANTI

In a series of tweets posted on Thursday, PM Narendra Modi revealed his plan for Ambedkar Jayanti. Stating that he was "extremely honoured to be visiting Nagpur tomorrow, on the very special occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti", PM Modi said he would pray at Deekshabhoomi.

PM Narendra Modi also revealed that a series of development projects would be inaugurated and which would have a positive impact on people's lives. The development projects include IIIT, IIM, AIIMS and launch of Koradi Thermal Power Station.

PM Narendra Modi's programme also includes joining the culmination of DigiDhan Mela and presenting awards to mega draw winners of Lucky Grahak Yojana and DigiDhan Vyapar Yojna.

"We are unwavering in our efforts towards creating a strong, prosperous & inclusive India of Dr Ambedkar's dreams, Jai Bhim," the PM said.

In Nagpur, I will pray at Deekshabhoomi, a holy spot that is very closely associated with Dr. Ambedkar. #AmbedkarJayanti

- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 13, 2017

We are unwavering in our efforts towards creating a strong, prosperous & inclusive India of Dr. Ambedkar's dreams. #JaiBhim

- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 13, 2017

PM MODI, AMBEDKAR AND DALITS

It is not the first time that PM Narendra Modi would be observing Ambedkar Jayanti with fanfare. Last year, on the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaeb Bhimrao Ambedkar, Modi had visited Mhow near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Mhow is the birthplace of Ambedkar. Modi had addressed a rally at Mhow.

PM Narendra Modi has been seen interacting with the Dalits on a regular basis. It has helped build a perception that he and BJP are genuinely concerned about this socially backward and deprived section of the society.

On April 20, 2015, Modi had laid the foundation stone of Dr Ambedkar International Centre at Janpath in the capital. On November 14, 2015, he inaugurated BR Ambedkar Memorial in London.

The Maharashtra government is transforming the building where Ambedkar lived in London into an international memorial-cum-research centre. Parliament had observed Constitution Day on November 26, 2015 during the Winter Session and a special discussion was held on Ambedkar.

On December 6, 2015, the Prime Minister released two commemorative coins, as part of the 125th Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations. The coins, of ten-rupee and one hundred and twenty-five rupee denomination, were issued on the Mahaparinirvan Divas (death anniversary) of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

On March 21, 2016, Modi had laid the foundation stone for a memorial of Ambedkar in New Delhi, which will cover the important aspects of his life.

AMIT SHAH AND DALITS

BJP president Amit Shah too has done his bit to successfully woo the Dalits.

Even though at one point in time BJP criticised Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his momentary display of love for the Dalits, Shah too did exactly the same.

On May 30, 2016, Shah ate a meal with Girjaprasad Bind and Ikbal Bind's family, who belong to the Dalit community, in Jogiyapur village in Sevapuri Assembly segment of UP. Jogiyapur falls under PM Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi.

Earlier in the same month, the BJP president had taken a holy dip along with saints, retired bureaucrats and police officials, mostly from the Dalit community, as part of "Samrasta Snan (a holy bath for social harmony)" at Valmiki ghat of Kshipra river during Simhastha in Ujjain.

This was followed by Shah felicitating the saints and having a community meal with them. With symbolism galore, Valmiki is identified with the Dalit author who had written the Ramayana and it is also a Dalit community in several parts of the country.

BJP'S SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY DESPITE HICCUPS

BJP has been successful in weaning away Dalits from Mayawati's BSP and even Congress despite some unfortunate incidents.

Last year itself, somem Dalit youths were brutally thrashed by the so-called cow vigilantes or fringe elements of the Sangh Parivar PM Modi and Shah's home state of Gujarat. The only fault of the youths was that they were found skinning a dead cow.

This incident had led to a largescale protests not just in Gujarat but also in other parts of the country.

Similarly, the alleged suicide of Rohith Vemula, a research scholar of Hyderabad University, last year itself was also raised by BJP's rival parties. Vemula purportedly was a Dalit and had allegedly committed suicide after being harassed by the upper caste teachers and fellow students of the university.

However, despite widespread protests over such issues, Dalits lent their unflinching support to BJP in the elections.

The efforts of PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and BJP have borne fruit for them. The Dalit votebank has shifted and so has the politics involving this section of the society.

It is time for Mayawati and Congress to indulge in serious introspection.ore the crucial "brain-storming" National Executive Meet of BJP in Bhubaneswar, which will set the political agenda for Mission 2019, the by-poll results on Thursday gave a new reason to celebrate and energise the top saffron leadership in the country.

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