Rahul, Shah trade blows on Dalits

Amit Shah in Parliament on Thursday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of an "anti-Dalit" mindset, prompting BJP president Amit Shah to ask him to look at facts when "free from winking".

"Modi's heart and mind, his thinking is anti-Dalit," the Congress president told a rally of Dalits at Jantar Mantar.

"He wrote once that Dalits find intellectual satisfaction in sanitation jobs. If the intention is bad, policies will be made on that basis."

Rahul alleged that Dalits were being openly beaten and oppressed in states where the BJP was in power.

"All Dalits and people from the weaker sections know that the Prime Minister has no place for Dalits in his heart or mind. That is why we stand opposed to him," he said.

Shah hit back in a series of tweets, saying the Congress had a legacy of insulting Dalits while Modi's legacy included the strongest amendment to the SC/ST Act and constitutional status for the backward commission.

"Rahul Ji, when you are free from winking and disrupting Parliament give some time to facts as well. NDA government, through a cabinet decision and in Parliament ensured the strongest amendment to the act. Why are you protesting that?" Shah tweeted.

Rahul had claimed the Congress had brought in the anti-atrocity act and would continue to protect it.

He had assured the crowd that no one could stop the formation of a government next year that would protect the interests of Dalits, tribal communities, other disadvantaged sections and farmers.

Shah said Rahul should have spoken about how his party had treated its Dalit and backward leaders like B.R. Ambedkar, Jagjivan Ram and Sitaram Kesri.

"Would have been good if the Congress president would have spoken about his party's treatment towards Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram and Sitaram Kesri," he tweeted.

"Congress way of treating Dalits is patronising and condescending. For years Congress insulted Dalit aspirations."

Rahul said: "Wherever Dalits try to move forward, they are crushed. (Hyderabad University scholar) Rohith Vemula's suicide is a case in point.... We want an India in which there should be a place for everybody, whether Dalit, poor, tribal or minority."

Shah shot back: "Mr Rahul Gandhi, expecting research and honesty is difficult from you but do read Mr Rajiv Gandhi's speech during Mandal when he opposed it tooth & nail. The sense of entitlement and hatred for backward communities comes out so clearly. And today you talk of Dalit welfare!"


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