BJD's Dalit attack on BJP

A day after agriculture minister Damodar Rout targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJD today stepped up its attack on the BJP by hitting the streets over atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

By Subhashish Mohanty in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 14.10.17
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Workers of the BJD's Dalit wing set effigies of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on fire in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 13: A day after agriculture minister Damodar Rout targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJD today stepped up its attack on the BJP by hitting the streets over atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

The party termed both the state governments as "anti-Dalit" and demanded their dismissal. Its workers burnt the effigies of the Prime Minister and BJP president Amit Shah.

The BJD had targeted Modi directly for the first time on Thursday and had even questioned his foreign jaunts, expensive clothing and his silence on the issue of BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay's business growing inordinately. Citing statistics, agriculture minister and party vice-president Damodar Rout had claimed how Odisha fared better than BJP-ruled states, including Gujarat.

Today's demonstration by the party's Dalit cell, attended by several MLAs and state's finance minister Sashi Bhushan Behera, reflected the growing combative mood in the BJD leadership against the ruling party at the Centre.

The BJD, which had an alliance with the BJP from 1997 to 2009 until it chose to arbitrarily terminate the alliance, had hardened its stance towards the BJP in the wake of Shah's clarion call to saffron cadres to take on Naveen and fulfil the party's mission of getting 120 seats in the 147-member state Assembly in 2019.

The BJP has accused the BJD government of non-performance by posing questions on various departments virtually on a daily basis. The BJD has decided to strike back and target the Modi government at the Centre.

"We will not let them keep making accusations against us on each and every issue," said a BJD leader.

Later, the BJD activists submitted a memorandum addressed to the President to the governor.

The party asserted that Dalits were safe underthe Naveen Patnaik government. "It is utter shame that the land of Mahatma Gandhi where Modi was the chief minister for 15 years has turned unsafe for the Dalits. The Dalits are now forced to live in forests," said BJD Dalit cell president Bishnu Das.

The party cited instances of Dalits being killed in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. It cited a case where a Dalit youth in Gandhi Nagar was murdered because he had dared to sport a moustache.

The list included a Dalit girl being raped and killing of 13 Dalit youths in Uttar Pradesh.

Asked whether he would campaign against the BJP in the upcoming Gujarat elections, Das said: "I would like to if my party president permits me to do so."

Reacting to the BJD's charges, BJP state vice-president Samir Mohanty said: "If one sees the white paper of the state government, one will notice how crimes against Dalits are on the rise. Instead of setting their own house in order, they are poking their nose into other's affairs."