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Mayavati invites Dalit ire

Lucknow, Jan. 5: After inviting the wrath of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh barely a month ago, Mayavati has rubbed Dalit leader Udit Raj the wrong way.

Raj, the founder of the Justice Party, a newly-formed Dalit outfit, has alleged that Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar’s recent statement that B.R. Ambedkar had decried Muslims as terrorists was prompted by Mayavati’s unprincipled flirting with Hindutva.

But with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party increasingly resenting Katiyar’s statement, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has summoned the state BJP chief and senior leader Lalji Tandon to Delhi on Tuesday.

BJP general-secretary Rajnath Singh and the party in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Kalraj Mishra, too, would be there, party spokesman Hridaya Narain Dixit said.

Katiyar’s statement, however, had evoked a lukewarm response from Mayavati, who said: “Baba Saheb Ambedkar had never termed Muslims as terrorists. Those (read Katiyar) who are giving such baseless statements quoting Ambedkar should refrain from this exercise because it hurts the feelings of his followers.”

But Raj thinks “this flagrant misrepresentation of Ambedkar” by the Bahujan Samaj’s coalition partner in Uttar Pradesh is not without chief minister Mayavati’s tacit approval.

He has threatened an agitation if the BSP does not force its ally to apologise for Katiyar’s outburst. “The BJP chief should quote Ambedkar’s thoughts in the right perspective and in totality. We will take to the streets if he continues to come out with incomplete statements on Ambedkar,” the Dalit leader said at a news conference on Friday.

Raj, who is also chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, accused Mayavati of hobnobbing with those whose politics Ambedkar had always opposed.

“The BSP is responsible for the bid to create a rift between Dalits and Muslims. Had Mayavati not helped Modi win a comfortable majority by campaigning on an aggressive Hindutva card in Gujarat, the BJP would never have dared to take up the Ambedkar issue,” he said.

The controversy is similar to the one raised by the BJP and the VHP in Madhya Pradesh a month ago when they protested against the sale of a book, Ramayan ke Mahapatra, authored by an Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat, A.M. Sant.

Digvijay Singh had then tried to corner the BJP by alleging that a serving officer of the Mayavati government had written the book denigrating Lord Ram and published it with the permission of the previous BJP government in the state. Besides registering a case against Sant for “hurting religious sentiments of the people”, Digvijay Singh had written a letter to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and other BJP and VHP leaders demanding that the book be banned.

Sant had defended his book, while state BJP leaders and ministers decided to look the other way.

In the Ambedkar controversy, too, while the BSP leaders are keeping quiet, Katiyar is unrepentant.

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