Although the state of Rajasthan completed voting for its 25 parliamentary seats on 6 May, the alleged gangrape of a Dalit woman in Alwar by “influential” persons in front of her husband has repeatedly figured in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent rallies in Uttar Pradesh and also in an interview given to The Indian Express.
By seeking justice for the woman Modi is training his guns on three targets – first, Congress and its “Ab Hoga Nyay” 2019 poll catchphrase; second, the motley liberalist-secularist “award wapsi gang” of writers, filmmakers and artists, which is vociferously anti-Modi; third, BSP chief Mayawati who so far had not shown any vigor for justice to the victim in a state where her party extends outside support to the Congress government.
The prime minister has brought up the issue at a time particularly to connect with the Dalit community in Uttar Pradesh where 14 seats went to polls on Sunday and another 13 seats will go will vote in the last and final phase of polling on 19 May.
Speaking at a public rally in Kushinagar on Sunday, Modi hit out at Mayawati accusing her of “shedding crocodile tears” over the Alwar gangrape case.
“Please do not shed crocodile tears. If you are serious, why don’t you withdraw support from the Congress government in Rajasthan?” Modi asked Mayawati in an apparent jibe. The total strength of the Rajasthan Assembly is 200, the Congress had won 99 seats and formed the government with the support of six BSP and some other MLAs.
Modi reminded Mayawati of the 1995 incident when Samajwadi Party goons had allegedly attacked her.
"When the guest house incident happened, the entire country was pained. But why is she not feeling pained? If you (Mayawati) are honest about the dignity of daughters, then you should immediately write a letter to the Rajasthan governor withdrawing support from the (Ashok) Gehlot government," the prime minister said.
Modi’s charge was that Gehlot government was trying to suppress the news till the elections were over lest it could adversely impact its poll prospects.
Once the issue was picked up by Modi, Mayawati issued a statement saying she didn’t expect justice to be done to the Alwar victim by the Congress government in Rajasthan and the Supreme Court should take a suo motu cognisance of the matter.
The prime minister and his party have been consciously trying to woo the Dalit community since 2014 by seeking to take Bhim Rao Ambedkar's legacy forward. Among other significant steps taken by the BJP-led government to try to win the support of the Dalits are the celebrating of Constitution Day in Parliament, building various memorials in Ambedkar's name within and outside of country, beginning of the Swachh Bharat campaign from a Balmiki basti in Delhi and bringing of a legislation to surpass the Supreme Court ruling on SC/ST Act. Modi's act of washing the feet of sanitation workers at Kumbh in Prayagraj was also one such step of the Dalit outreach programme.
In the process, the aim was to demolish Mayawati’s claims that she is the sole champion of the Dalit cause.
There are indications on the ground in Uttar Pradesh that a good number of non-Jatav Dalits have preferred BJP over BSP. Modi wants to consolidate the non-Jatav Dalits in BJP’s favour and make a dent in the Jatav community for the remaining 13 seats which would go to the polls on next Sunday. The message is also intended for other states where polling seventh and final phase of polling is due – eight in Bihar, three in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 13 in Punjab, nine in West Bengal, one in Chandigarh and four in Himachal Pradesh.
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Updated Date: May 14, 2019 07:13:31 IST