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Can PM Modi Woo Dalits in UP by Invoking Guru Ravidas?

Will PM Modi’s recent visit to the Guru Ravidas temple in Varanasi help him woo the Dalit voters of UP? 

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Video Editors: Sandeep Suman and Mohammad Ibrahim

Mayawati’s politics in Uttar Pradesh is known to resonate with Dalits across the state. Driven by a reverence that the BSP gives to Dalit saints and idols, this brand of politics has become the envy for all parties aspiring to exercise power in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP is working hard to gain acceptability among the Dalits of UP. This attempt is reflected in the recent visit of PM Modi to Varanasi, when he worshipped at the Guru Ravidas Temple on the saint’s birth anniversary.

The BSP thinks it has a monopoly over the followers of saint Ravidas who come to this temple to worship. But in the past few years leaders of other political parties have also visited the temple.

Many Leaders Have Prayed in This Temple. 

From Rahul Gandhi to Arvind Kejriwal, many leaders have prayed in this temple. UP CM Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been here twice and offered their prayers.

“They come here to be applauded and that’s all. Everyone gets so excited about Modiji’s visit. But when he comes, no one tells him about the real issues. I will only talk about my problems.”
Vimla, Devotee
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“It’s only a stunt. They are opportunists who want to please the Raidasis (Ravidas’ followers). But Raidasis are neither illiterate nor are they fools.”
Lal Chand, Devotee
Will PM Modi win over the Dalits?

In Siragovardhan of Varanasi, the most revered Dalit saint Guru Ravidas was born. Every year on 19 February there is a big gathering at his birthplace.

Raidasis play an important role in the politics of Punjab and Haryana as the number of Dalits is high in theses states. The percentage of Dalits is 35% in Punjab and 25% in UP.

“In the past 5 years, the image that has emerged of the BJP, the Sangh, and the Central government is that of being anti-Dalit. Whatever decisions they have taken at the Centre have not actually been in favour of the Dalits. Incidents of atrocities on Dalits have only increased. So, by coming to the Ravidas Temple. the BJP is also trying to wash off this stain of being called anti-Dalit.”
MP Ahirwar, Professor, BHU

The scholar also argued that not only has the entire Sangh Parivar always stood in disagreement with Guru Ravidas's teachings, it has also conspired against the saint's followers.

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