‘BJP’s Anti-Dalit Mindset Evident’: Udit Raj on Joining Congress
Udit Raj with Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.
Udit Raj with Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.(Photo: ANI)

‘BJP’s Anti-Dalit Mindset Evident’: Udit Raj on Joining Congress

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Udit Raj on Wednesday, 24 April, joined the Congress party in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi.

The party’s Twitter handle welcomed the ex-BJP MP into the party.

Speaking at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also welcomed his entry into the party.

The newly-inducted Congress member said that he had wanted to join the party since 2012, adding that Gandhi was aware of that wish.

“I do not lie. If BJP had given me a ticket from there, I would have fought from there,” he said.

He alleged that the BJP’s anti-Dalit mindset had become clear after he had been overlooked for a ticket, despite having gained recognition and appreciation for his work and said that the Congress was far more inclusive.

Raj also stated that he was being punished for supporting Dalits in 2018.

“The BJP want Dalit votes but don’t want Dalit MPs. They want deaf and dumb MPs. I am neither deaf nor dumb. I have never compromised on the issues of women and Dalits and I will keep fighting for the Dalits now in Congress.”
Udit Raj

KC Venugopal, who was also present at the press conference, praised Raj, claiming that sometimes he would have to fight against his own government on several issues.

“The Modi government has become an anti-Dalit government,” he declared, adding that many times, the Opposition would have to take up anti-Dalit issues.

Delhi Congress president Sheila Dikshit also welcomed him into the party, saying, “Udit Raj will be very good for Delhi and we can now win seats that we have so far not won. We know Udit Raj very well and how he works for the people.”

Also Read : 'Hurt' BJP MP Udit Raj targets party over denial of ticket

Upset With BJP

Upset over refusal of ticket for the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP sitting MP from North West, Raj on Tuesday 23 April had said the party might have decided to drop him for protesting against the apex court's order that nullified the stringent provisions of the Dalit protection law.

The BJP had replaced Raj from the North West Lok Sabha constituency with Punjabi Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans.

Raj, who had earlier said he would contest as an independent candidate if the party did not announce his candidature, had later said he will decide his future course of action after consulting his supporters.

“I will not contest as an independent candidate. They (BJP) are forcing me to leave the party but I have not taken a decision on quitting. I will consult my supporters from across the country,” he had said on Tuesday.

Talking about the possible reasons why he was denied a ticket, Raj had said, "When there was bandh in 2018 on SC-ST amendment, I protested, that's why the party leadership seemed to be unhappy with me. When there was no government recruitment happening, was I not supposed to raise the issue? I will continue to raise the issues of Dalits."

In 2018, the Supreme Court had issued a slew of guidelines to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act. The court directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority.

This was seen as dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which led to protests across the country.

The government later brought in an amendment to nullify the apex court's order.

On the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, supporters of Raj and Hans had raised slogans at the Delhi BJP office on Pandit Pant Marg in Delhi.

Raj, along with supporters, had reached the office after hearing about Hans being considered by the party for the North West Delhi seat.

The former Indian Revenue Service officer had merged his Indian Justice Party (IJP) with the BJP and contested the Lok Sabha election from northwest Delhi in 2014.

Raj claimed Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari had assured him of a ticket from North West Delhi. He said he is in contact with senior party leaders Nirmala Sitharaman and Arun Jaitley in this regard.

The BJP MP has often held views contrary to the party's stand, especially during the Sabrimala issue and the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations last year.

Earlier this month, he was at the centre of controversy after being caught in a sting done on several MPs, including Raj, which purportedly showed lawmakers accepting use of black money for contesting polls.

Also Read : BJP Denies Udit Raj North West Delhi Ticket, Fields Hans Raj Hans

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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