The Uttar Pradesh Ambedkar Mahasabha seems to be divided on it’s decision to felicitate Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with the ‘Dalit Mitra’ award, with the founding members, SR Darapuri and Harish Chandra, criticising the move, reported National Herald.
The Mahasabha decided to felicitate Adityanath with the award on the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar on 14 April, reported PTI.
Speaking to The Indian Express, president of the Ambedkar Mahasabha Lalji Nirmal said, “It is for the first time we decided to felicitate someone as ‘Dalit Mitra.’ There are various reasons for selecting Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. His government was the first to give an order to put up a photograph of Ambedkar in every office and police station, and he also announced reservation for most backward classes and Dalits in the Vidhan Sabha.”
The move comes amid the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) plans to hold grand events to mark Ambedkar’s birthday across the state.
Ambedkar Mahasabha Divided Over Decision?
According to the National Herald, on 7 April, the Mahasabha members were not happy with the decision. They alleged the organisation president, Lalji Prasad Nirmal, was acting on the orders of the BJP.
Two of the founder members of the Mahasabha – retired IPS officer SR Darapuri and retired IAS officer Harish Chandra – threatened to call for an annual general meeting if the Mahasabha did not rescind the order.
“The way this decision was taken, it seems Mahasabha president Lalji Prasad Nirmal is in the hands of the BJP,” Chandra had told the National Herald on Friday, 6 April.
“How can one think of conferring the award to the CM when atrocities on Dalits are on the rise. This is really a shame to even think about this,” he told National Herald. He added that they will request Adityanath to decline the award.
Stating that atrocities against Dalits increased in Yogi’s rule, Darapuri demanded for a disciplinary action against Nirmal, saying he had overstepped his authority.
While speaking to National Herald, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar, said, "As far as award to UP CM is concerned, it should be seen that deserving people who have worked for Dalit rights should get such a felicitation."
Mahasabha President Defends Move
Defending the move, Nirmal said that the decision was taken due to Adityanath’s efforts to uplift the community, and denied and role of the BJP in it.
"Yogiji is doing a lot of work to uplift Dalits and other communities. Some people are unnecessarily trying to create politics over the issue but it would not deter us from our move," he told National Herald.
BJP’s Grand Ambedkar Jayanti Plans
Meanwhile, the BJP has planned grand celebrations of Ambedkar’s birth anniversary across UP.
Kaushal Kishore, BJP MP from Mohanlalganj in Lucknow and the state president of UP BJP's SC Morcha, showered praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief minister for working on the mission of Babasaheb – as Ambedkar is fondly called.
"On the eve of the birth anniversary of the architect of the Constitution, party workers will take out padayatras in the districts," Kaushal Kishore told PTI.
After the formation of the BJP government at the Centre and in UP, both of them have started working on the mission of Babasaheb. A large number of beneficiaries of different schemes of the Centre are people from the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) community.Kaushal Kishore, BJP MP, to PTI
Kishore added that if the government's intention was to end the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, then it would not have filed a review petition in Supreme Court, which has recently passed an order vis-a-vis the law.
(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express, and National Herald)