Mumbai: BJP hops onto Bhim Rath to shed anti-Dalit tag

Oct 06, 2015, 06:51 IST | Varun Singh

The chariot will travel across the city to garner support and invite Ambedkar followers to the bhoomipoojan of the Ambedkar Memorial at Indu Mills on October 11

In what looks like an attempt to garner the support and votes of the Dalit community, the city unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inaugurated a Bhim Rath yesterday.

BJP city president Ashish Shelar (holding the flag) flags off the rath in the presence of Bhai Girkar (blue turban) and BJP leader Raj Purohit outside the BJP office at Nariman Point yesterday
BJP city president Ashish Shelar (holding the flag) flags off the rath in the presence of Bhai Girkar (blue turban) and BJP leader Raj Purohit outside the BJP office at Nariman Point yesterday

The purpose of this chariot is to travel across Mumbai and invite Ambedkar followers for the bhoomipoojan of the Ambedkar Memorial at Indu Mills. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform the ceremony at 4 pm on October 11.

Insiders claim it is an attempt made by the party to shed the anti-Dalit tag. Also, the BJP has put Bhai Girkar, a Dalit leader from the party, in charge of the rath to attract mass participation from the community. The rath was unveiled in the presence of Ashish Shelar, BJP city president.

Addressing the crowd, Shelar said, “The previous government never offered the Indu Mill land. It was the BJP government who did it, now followed by a bhoomipoojan.” Shelar added that the BJP government has quashed all the cases filed against Ambedkarites during the protests held by them demanding Indu Mill for constructing the Ambedkar memorial.

A senior BJP functionary said, “We already have certain segments of the community with us. While Dalits form a major community, it is fragmented. They lack a prominent leader. This is the right time for the BJP to take charge. Moreover, the Indu Mill issue is an emotional one. Ensuring a memorial will help the party shed its anti-Dalit image.” Dalits have fought hard to get Indu Mill allocated for the memorial.

Connection
BJP’s attempt to woo the Dalit community can be likened to that made by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In the past, RSS, in its mouthpiece Organiser, had stated that ‘Ambedkar was never against Hinduism, instead he was against only a few dichotomies that existed in the religion.’ The article further read, ‘Ambedkar was fighting against these dichotomies, contradictions and evils of the Hindu society and not the Hindu society and civilisation itself.’

Earlier this year, at a gathering of RSS ideologues held at Dadar’s Savarkar Smarak, RSS General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi likened Ambedkar with Sangh founder Dr K B Hedgewar and even referred that both were born in the same year and worked for the same cause. Besides raking up the Ambedkar issue, the RSS is now running a One Temple, One Well, One Crematorium programme to attract the Dalit community.

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