At Ambedkar memorial launch, PM Modi flays Congress

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said his government would not allow the SC/ST law to "get affected", even as he turned the inauguration ceremony of the Dr Ambedkar National Memorial into an all-out attack on opposition Congress on Friday.

The Prime Minister dug into history to allege that the Congress humiliated Ambedkar and maintained that "parties who believe in Babasaheb Ambedkar should never be with the Congress". Modi's remarks come after widespread Dalit protests that were seen by observers as a sign of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) losing a key support base amid the Opposition's plan to stitch an anti-BJP front in 2019.

Days after the Supreme Court banned the immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or hurting Dalits under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Protection of Atrocities) Act, Modi reminded those present of how his government amended the law to make it stronger. "We strengthened the law against atrocities in 2015. We increased the list of punishable offences from 22 crimes to 47. We retained the non-bailable provision for the accused," he said.

Dismissing criticism about the Centre's delay in filing a review petition in the SC/ST Act, Modi said the process was held up due to holidays after the day of the judgment. "No one talks about this. The Congress is only good at spreading falsehood and rumours," he said at the function.

The Prime Minister alleged that the Congress sidelined Ambedkar in Parliament, fielded candidates and campaigned against him to defeat him twice in the Lok Sabha election. He added that it was Jan Sangh ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee who helped Ambedkar become a member in the Rajya Sabha.

Dubbing the delay in building the memorial in Delhi's Alipore, where Ambedkar breathed his last, as the Congress' ploy against him, Modi said: "The Congress applied full force to wipe off his legacy from Indian history. People who don't kneel down before Congress ecosystem, they don't even get space in books."

The PM said Ambedkar vied for a panel to give additional safeguards for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribess in the Constitution but the Congress government did not entertain him. "The Congress hasn't changed. Seventy years ago, they didn't move in forming a panel. Now, Congress is stalling the bill to give the OBC commission constitutional status," he quipped.

Modi also said government schemes such as Ujjwala, Mudra and Jan Dhan were aimed at the SC/STs. "Social justice is not just issue of talks, it's our commitment," he said. "Ambedkar was given Bharat Ratna when BJP supported the VP Singh government. The Congress refused to install his portrait in Parliament, saying there's no space."

 

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