Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday earned plenty of plaudits for his comments on Dalit reservation and his flattering words for the architect of Indian constitution, Baba Sahib Bhimrao Ambedkar.
This is what Modi had to say on reservation for Dalits, “When Vajpayeeji became PM, sections started saying reservation will go. He was PM for two terms nothing of that sort happened. Nothing has ever happened to the reservation for Dalits, tribals, where we are in power but still this lies is spread to mislead. This is a right that nobody can snatch.”
Modi was targetting his political detractors, who according to him was spreading lies about his government concerning quotas for Dalits.
On Ambedkar, the prime minister said, “I have got an opportunity to fulfil Baba Saheb’s dream. He left us in 1956. Today, after 60 years, a memorial is being set up. 60 years have passed! I don’t know how we can explain this, but we have had to wait for 60 years for this. Perhaps this was written in my fate. Perhaps I had blessings of Baba Saheb on me. I will inaugurate it on 14th April, 2018.”
Given the importance of Dalit voters both in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, both scheduled to go for elections next year, Modi’s speech was well suited to cater to these constituencies in both the states.
However, with the growing strength of social media, the users were nimble-footed in once again highlighting the prime minister’s glaring inconsistencies on Dalits.
Since Modi’s speech on Monday, social media platforms, particularly Facebook, has been inundated with the old reportage on the prime minister’s controversial remarks made in 2010.
Among the stories fervently being shared on Facebook is a report carried by Economic Times on 1 May 2010, on Modi’s speech while releasing his book Samajik Samrasta.
Speaking at the function, according to the paper, Modi had said, “Just as people give special treatment to mentally retarded children when they visit their houses, the Dalits, too, ought to be treated the same way.”
Congress had reacted angrily and even caused uproar in the Rajya Sabha, where it insisted for a debate but the then deputy chairperson, K Rahman Khan, had rejected the request.
But the party’s Rajya Sabha member Pravin Rashtrapal was incensed on Modi comparing ‘Dalits with the mentally retarded.’
According to Rashtrapal, Modi’s comments had also insulted the Constitution and Dr B R Ambedkar.
He had said, ”Modi has revealed his mindset towards the Dalits. He garlanded Ambedkar’s statue only for Dalit votes, but does not have any respect for the community.”