The Dalit MP from North-West Delhi says after getting posts, the ministers have forgotten their responsibilities towards the community.
New Delhi: Dalit MP Udit Raj is an angry man. He is angry with the “parasite” Dalit ministers of the Narendra Modi government for failing to connect with the community; angry with the party for ceding ground to other leaders in the Dalit cause; angry about the appointment of “anti-backward” former Supreme Court Justice A.K. Goel as head of the National Green Tribunal.
In an interview with ThePrint, the MP from North-West Delhi expressed his anger about all these issues, while also refuting allegations that he was going against the party and his colleagues for his own benefit.
Dalit ministers are ‘parasites’
Raj hit out at the Dalit ministers in the Modi government, accusing them of shirking their duty towards the community and forgetting their roots. This is why the Dalit community has turned against the BJP, he believes.
Prime Minister Modi has exhorted his MPs to touch base with their constituents, but Raj believes there is a huge communication gap between the ministers and the Dalits they represent, and that the time has come for the BJP leadership to take a call on them.
“Many schemes that the government has launched should be communicated to Dalits. Ministers who are representing these communities should know what their job is. What are they doing?” he said.
“Why are Dalit leaders made ministers and MPs? Just to enjoy the fruits of the post? They are given a post to go to these communities and benefit the party. Why are they not performing their duties? These ministers should be asked why they are holding these posts. I don’t think they feel related to the community.
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“They are leaders because of the influence of the party, the RSS and local leaders. They are being parasites, and should leave these parasitic tendencies. Party leaders should take a call on them,” he says.
Allegations about working against the party
Raj’s fellow BJP MPs have alleged that he is going against the party and working for himself by organising gatherings of Dalits in which other party leaders aren’t invited. Rubbishing these claims, Raj said he is risking everything to stand for what he believes in.
“I am a nationalist of the highest order, unlike many in my party who do not speak for their communities, as they fear that their posts and offices will be at risk. For me, it is not any party but Dalits who have given me a post,” said Raj, who also believes he should have been given more responsibilities by the party.
Central leadership has to do more
In the past, many MLAs and MPs have voiced their grievances to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah about the ill-treatment meted out to them by other party colleagues. Asked if he supported these leaders, Raj said: “Yes, I raised my voice at the party forum. But it is the central leadership that has to do something about it.”
Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who is allied to the BJP, has assumed the role of the voice of the Dalit community in Parliament. This is also not something that sits too well with Raj, who believes that his colleagues are to be blamed for ceding ground on Dalit issues.
Paswan recently took the initiative to invite Dalit MPs to his home and seek their suggestions on the issues affecting the community. There’s a feeling that this has made the BJP look secondary on Dalit issues, and Raj said it is the party and its leaders’ fault for ceding ground.
There’s scope for dissent
Raj insists that far from hurting his political career to criticise his own party’s leaders, speaking about the Dalits and the downtrodden has, in fact, strengthened the party.
“It is a good thing that one can raise a voice about Dalits while being in the BJP. It is helping the party. If everyone keeps quiet, that goes against party,” he said.
“I will cite an example. During the Congress regime, Dalit leaders used to be critical of the top leadership. And that is reason why Dalits stayed with the Congress for so many years, because there were leaders who spoke for them.
“I work as a safety valve. Dalits feel there is a person who is fighting for them, and the fact that the party is giving him space and not closing the doors on him works in its favour as well.”
Justice Goel shouldn’t be allowed to head NGT
Dalit and tribal community leaders have voiced their disapproval of Justice A.K. Goel’s appointment as chairperson of the National Green Tribunal. They have demanded his removal, and Raj agrees, calling the former Supreme Court judge a “serial offender” against these communities.
“His mentality is anti-Dalit and reservation. He holds a post that has the capacity to do harm. Being head of NGT, he will harm tribals. He will not allow tribals to flourish in forests. Such a person should not be allowed to head the NGT,” Raj said.
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