New Delhi: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday accused the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of fanning Dalit violence in various parts of the country for political gains.
He also took a dig at Congress President Rahul Gandhi, saying he should not tarnish the legacy of the office he is holding.
“Bhimrao Ambedkar said Dalit movement should not be violent. But some parties like the Congress, the SP, the BSP are fanning Dalit violence in a calculated manner for political gains,” Prasad told the media here.
Reacting to Gandhi’s day-old tweet in which he termed the RSS-BJP ideology as “oppressive” and said such ideology “can never respect the Dalits and Baba saheb (Ambedkar)”, Prasad said the office of the Congress President has a legacy and Rahul Gandhi should not forget that.
“Rahulji should not forget the legacy of the post he is holding. This post has been held by the likes of Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,” Prasad said.
The senior BJP leader said the Congress’ “new found” love for Ambedkar was opportunistic as the party hardly cared for him. He also accused the BSP of deserting Ambedkar’s and another Dalit leader Kanshi Ram’s ideals and making the BSP a family party that “hardly cares for Dalits and their emancipation”.
“Ambedkar died in 1956 but the successive Congress government did not bother to confer him with Bharat Ratna. It was only in 1989 that the V.P. Singh government backed by the BJP conferred the honour on him,” he said.
He said the opposition’s allegations that the Modi government was trying to dilute the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was far from the truth as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after coming to power at the Centre in 2014, worked to strengthen the said Act.
“We have made very crucial changes to the SC/ST Act to make it more stringent and to plug the gaps,” he said.
Prasad quoted from a circular issued on October 29, 2007 by the then Uttar Pradesh government headed by BSP supremo Mayawati which said that the SC/ST Act must not be used to harass innocent persons and that if someone lodges a false complaint under the Act, legal proceedings under Section 182 of the IPC should be initiated against that person.
“This is a circular issued by Mayawati government, not by BJP,” Prasad said.
The Law Minister clarified that the Union government was neither a party nor was it called for a counter affidavit in the case where the Supreme Court passed an order that an accused need not be arrested under the SC/ST Act without a preliminary inquiry.
“Only the Attorney General was called for his opinion as the matter pertained to a central legislation,” Prasad said.
The Supreme Court on March 20 said the arrest of an accused under the SC/ST Act is not mandatory and recourse to coercive action would be only after preliminary inquiry and sanction by the competent authority.
Prasad also pointed out that it was the BJP that has made Ram Nath Kovind — a Dalit — the President of India.