New Delhi: A day after the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi accused Mayawati of not allowing anyone from the scheduled castes to emerge as leaders, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief hit back labelling the Congress as anti-Dalit.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s statement on Wednesday potentially ends speculation that the two parties were trying to forge an alliance for the national election due next year.
In a press note released on the seventh death anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram, Mayawati said the Congress government’s reluctance to declare a day of national mourning to mark this was evidence of its “anti-Dalit and casteist stand”.
“We condemn it in the strongest words... the Dalits in India will never forgive the Congress for it,” Mayawati said in the statement.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a programme on national awareness for scheduled castes empowerment in the national capital on Tuesday, had blamed Mayawati for the lack of Dalit leaders in the country.
Stating that Mayawati was a beneficiary of the second Dalit movement—led by Kanshi Ram years after B.R. Ambedkar’s efforts to improve the conditions and social status of India’s backward Dalit community—Gandhi said there was no new Dalit leadership emerging now.
He also urged his Congress party to nurture Dalit leadership systematically at every level, from the panchayat (village council) to the parliamentary level. Gandhi’s remark was seen as an attempt to woo Dalits, especially in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress vice-president is also addressing two public rallies in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.