Political analysts say BJP has started wooing Dalits across the country with an eye on 2019 general election.
Encouraged by the assembly election results in Uttar Pradesh where BJP alone won 69 of the 85 seats reserved for SCs, the party seems to have started expanding its base in the Dalit community in other parts of the country.
As part of this move, the Narendra Modi government has focused on building and renovation of memorials of Dalit icons.
Over the next few months, the government is set to unveil two major memorials —Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial in north Delhi’s Alipur Road and Dr Ambedkar International Centre on Janpath.
Sources said Ambedkar National Memorial is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on 14 April, 2018 — Babasaheb’s birthday. The date has been chosen in keeping with the PM’s wish. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, had breathed his last at 26, Alipur Road, and the place is considered sacred by his followers.
The Ambedkar International Centre is scheduled to be inaugurated on 6 December, 2017 — the day of his Mahaparinirvan (death anniversary) — by the PM, said Rajesh Lawariya, a member of the Dr Ambedkar Foundation.
“It is almost complete and we want it to be inaugurated by the PM on 6 December. It will be a centre for research on Ambedkar,” added Lawariya.
Last year, Modi had laid the foundation stone for the national memorial. He had also announced that five places were being developed as “Panchteerth” in honour of Ambedkar. These included his birthplace in Mhow (Madhya Pradesh), the place in London where he stayed while studying in Britain, Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur, Mahaparinirvan Sthal in Delhi, and Chaitya Bhoomi in Mumbai. The two memorials in Delhi are an extension of this plan.
BJP sources said that while Delhi has several memorials with links to the Dalit community, there is a need to have bigger buildings or structures constructed in memory of Ambedkar, the biggest Dalit icon of the country.
The party claims that previous governments failed to give due credit to the visionary leader for the work he had done for the country.
Anand Teltumbde, a political analyst, said that Ambedkar is the only Dalit icon around whom the Dalit politics revolves. “BJP is very calculative and I believe they would try to inaugurate the memorials just ahead of the 2019 polls. And it has been seen that BJP is getting more reserved seats than others in the past two-three elections. So, the inaugurations should definitely be seen in the light of these polls,” he said.