In yet another setback for the opposition, the Ambedkar Mahasabha, an influential Dality body, has decided to confer the ‘Dalit Mitra’ award on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The award will be bestowed on 14th April, the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. This comes amidst nationwide protests abetted by the opposition parties on 2nd April against the alleged dilution of the SC/ ST Act by the government (even though the alleged dilution happened due to a Supreme Court pronouncement). In fact, even riots and violent incidents took place in BJP-ruled states due to the inflammatory statements given by the opposition leaders.
The Ambedkar Mahasabha is one of the most influential organisations for Dalit empowerment, and nothing less than a pilgrimage site for the followers of Dr. B.R. Amedkar as an urn carrying Babasaheb’s mortal remains is placed at their office. Therefore, the ‘Dalit Mitra’ award bestowed by the leading Dalit body has a monumental significance. It can be taken as a stamp of recognition by the organisation on immense contribution towards the cause of Dalit empowerment by the recipient. As against all the noise created by the mainstream media and political parties, this award is an authoritative testimony of the work carried out on the ground level by the recipient of the award. In fact, this has turned all the efforts made by the opposition to paint the BJP and especially Yogi in a bad light to dust.
The chairman of the Mahasabha, Lalji Prasad ‘Nirmal’, has stated that the decision to confer the award on the Uttar Pradesh CM has been taken keeping in mind a flurry of Dalit-friendly measures aimed at uplifting them during the Yogi regime. Interestingly, the Mahasabha chairman has made specific mention of the Chief Minister’s commendable decision to correct and complete the name of Dr. Ambedkar by adding ‘Ramji’ as the middle name. This is in sharp contrast to the claims of the make-believe Dalit leaders and fake Ambedkar-loving politicians that the addition of ‘Ramji’ as the middle name is a manipulation on the part of the BJP and the Yogi government. All sorts of excuses were employed to criticise the government even though it has made a praiseworthy attempt to rectify the incomplete name that has been in common usage for a long time.
The Mahasabha further clarified that no one had even thought in the past of correcting the name of Dr. Ambedkar. The Mahasabha chairman further stated that even a Dalit-friendly government in the state did not give as much respect to Dr. Ambedkar as the present government has given. It was also added that completing and correcting his name is a much bigger and better tribute than erecting memorials in his name. This seems to be an obvious jibe at BSP supremo Mayawati, who did not take the pain of correcting Dr. Amedkar’s name in spite of its tall claims of being the only genuine Dalit leader in the country.
It must be noted that this is not for the first time that the Mahasabha has recognised the BJP’s contribution towards Dalit upliftment. In fact, when Prime Minister Modi visited the office of the Dalit body in 2016 more than a decade after any prime minister visited the office of the Dalit body, he was hosted warmly by the office bearers. And it was stated that PM Modi could be “Daliton ke Ram” (the lord of Dalits) as well as “Dalit mitra” (friend of Dalits). This had hinted about the general trend of Dalits seeing a savior in the BJP, and an agent of development as against the conventional vote bank parties who never considered themselves a true friend of the Dalits but only used them for electoral gains. This became evident after the huge electoral victory for the BJP in the 2017 Uttar Pradeh Assembly polls. The opposition continued to try breaking the BJP-Dalit bonhomie even after the embarrassing drubbing at the hands of the BJP in 2017. However, the Mahasabha has dealt a final blow to the opposition and this should be taken as a declaration of the ground level Dalit support for the BJP.