Modi govt ‘killed’ Rohith Vemula,Mayawati of not encouraging Dalit leadership: Rahul Gandhi

Lucknow(PTI): Taking on BSP chief Mayawati, a key contender for power in Uttar Pradesh, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused her of not “encouraging Dalit leadership” in a bid to keep her “firm grip on power”.

He also attacked the Modi government, accusing it of “killing” Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar from Hyderabad university, whose suicide triggered a nationwide outrage. “Mayawati did not utilise the platform provided by Kanshiram…she did not encourage Dalit leadership in the party in a bid to keep her firm grip on power,” he said addressing a ‘Dalit concalve’ at party office here. He alleged the BSP chief, in fact, “crushed and suppressed” emerging Dalit leadership.

“Mayawati failed to ensure proper benefit to the Dalits. She did not promote young Dalit leadership when she became the Chief Minister. She tried to crush and suppress Dalit leadership and attempted to concentrate all power in her hand,” he alleged. Claiming that the Dalit youth are now “frightened” by Mayawati’s leadership, he said this presents an opportunity before the Congress. Congress now wants to give them the space to transform Uttar Pradesh, he said.

“Congress has a big opportunity since Dalits have now started raising questions as to why they have not got any benefits in the last ten years. “We want to invite you (Dalit youths) to Congress and give you powers because you have not progressed the way you should have,” he said. BSP’s emergence on the Uttar Pradesh’s political landscape led to gradual erosion of the solid Dalit vote base of the Congress, which it is trying to regain.

Speaking about his Hyderabad visit after the suicide by Dalit research scholar Vemula, Rahul said, “Rohith was killed by the government of India. He was suppressed by the government and forced to commit suicide. An RSS man is heading the institution there and voice of Rohith was not heard.” Congress has kept the heat on the NDA government over Vemula’s suicide with its Scheduled Caste department raising it in several places across Uttar Pradesh during the party’s ongoing Bhim Jyoti yatra.

He said, “Dalits are asking themselves whether Congress could give place to Dalit youths and leaders in the party. We want to take Dalits with us as they did not get desired progress in UP and in the country”.

On his visit to Dalit homes, Rahul said, “BJP men termed my visit as ‘dhong’ (drama) but he want to tell them that a true Congressmen has concern for the poor…they (BJP) will not understand it,”. Attacking BJP and RSS, Rahul said they were trying to “hamper progress” of the country by “imposing” their ideology but Congress would not let that happen.

“BJP and RSS are trying to hamper growth of the country by imposing their ideology. Congress is fighting with RSS and it will not let it succeed in its designs,” Rahul said. He said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not like MNREGS scheme launched by UPA, his Finance Minister Arun Jaitely says “there is not such programme like MNREGS”.

“I asked Jaitley that Modiji termed it a bad scheme, while you consider it a good one. Why you don’t say this outside. We will save MNREGS and fight for rights of the minorities and Dalits,” he said. He also alleged that BJP and RSS were trying to impose their ideology on the education system, too.