In a move seen as Congress party reaching out to the underprivileged section, its Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday paid visit to the birth place of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The young Congress leader paid floral tributes to the Dalit icon and the chief architect of Indian Constitution at his home town in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh.
After paying tributes at the statue of Ambedkar memorial in Kali Paltan area, Rahul also carefully studied Dr. Ambedkar’s photos displayed at the memorial. His visit to the memorial was followed with addressing a public meeting in the city, where he interacted with various Dalit leaders and activists.
“Babasaheb was an inspiration to fight against the injustice and discrimination. Along with Gandhiji and Nehruji, Dr. Ambedkar laid the foundation of our Republic. The promise of ‘One Man and One Vote’ guaranteed in our Constitution changed the social order forever,” Rahul Gandhi said at the rally.
“Babasaheb Amebdkar’s dream of annihilation of caste remains unfulfilled. Casteism is still prevalent today. It is our collective responsibility to fight the caste divide and finish it,” he said at his rally in Swarg mandir gram in Mhow.
Rahul Gandhi also spoke about an on-going controversy at IIT Madras, which is mired in protest after the banning of student group Ambedkar Periyar Students Circle (APSC). The group was banned after an anonymous complaint alleged that the student’s group was “critical of Modi government and its policies”.
“It is wrong to ban the Dalit students’ group APSC in IIT Madras. Will fight against caste system if it takes away our rights,” he strongly stressed.
He was accompanied by several senior leaders and local leaders of the Congress party. Party General Secretary Digvijay Singh, former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and K Raju, the head of Congress party’s SC/ST cell were among the leaders who had accompanied him.
“Where ever there will be atrocities against Dalits, adivaasi, women and other weaker section, you’ll see Congress standing with them,” he said.
Gandhi’s visit to the birthplace of Dr. Ambedkar also flagged-off the Congress party’s year-round celebrations of Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. This exercise is been seen as an attempt by the Congress to reach out to the Dalit vote bank. Notably, Dalits had moved away from the Congress party in 2014 general elections and the subsequent assembly elections. The biggest dent has been caused by the BJP at the national level and AAP in Delhi, where till two years ago Congress party used to command 10 out of 12 reserved seats.
In a recent meeting chaired by the party President Sonia Gandhi, Congress party has drawn up an elaborate plan to organise series of events and functions to highlight the contributions of Dr. Ambedkar towards the society.
Mhow, earlier known as Military Head Quarter of War (Mhow), was in 2003 renamed as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar.
(with inputs from PTI)