‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)