Ready to Sacrifice All for Dalit Pride: BJP MP Savitri Bai Phoole
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam and Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Amid the rise in the number of cases of atrocities against Dalits, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is being criticised by its own Member of Parliaments (MPs). Many Dalit leaders of the party have written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and made him aware of their anger on this issue. Prominent among them is BJP’s Dalit MP from Uttar Pradesh, Savitri Bai Phoole.
In an exclusive interview to The Quint, Phoole made it clear in no uncertain terms that she will not stay quiet on Dalit issues just because she is from the ruling party. She further added that she will not hesitate in making any sacrifice in order to secure the pride and rights of Dalits.
‘Apex Court’s Verdict on SC/ST Act Unacceptable’
On 20 March 2018, the Supreme Court of India made a few important changes to the SC/ST Act. As per the these changes:
- Under the SC/ST Act, the accused won’t be arrested immediately after an FIR. An arrest can be made only after a DCP-rank officer has conducted an investigation and concluded that the arrest is necessary.
- If a government employee misuses the act, then to arrest him, permission of the head of the department is mandatory.
- For a person to be arrested, the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) needs to provide a written approval.
Due to these changes, a country-wide protest was organised by various Dalit groups on 2 April 2018, during which many people of the Dalit community lost their lives. Many others were arrested and cases were registered against them. This intensified the anger among the Dalits.
Issues such as the SC/ST Act and reservation in the promotions in government jobs were raised in a recent meeting of Dalit MPs of the NDA, held at the residence of Food and Supplies Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) President Ram Vilas Paswan.
Speaking to The Quint on the sidelines of the meeting, Phoole said:
We demand that the 20 March verdict of the apex court, which weakened the SC/ST Act, be discussed in the Lok Sabha and new laws be made. Not just that, the pending bill that looks into reservation in promotion for SC, ST employees should be tabled in the Lok Sabha for discussion. It should be placed in the ninth schedule so that no one can mess with it in the future.Savitri Bai Phoole, BJP MP, Bahraich
‘Not Greedy for Power’
Savitri Bai Phoole, who had threatened to resign from the BJP and vote against the Modi government during the recent no-confidence motion, took no such step. However, she clearly said she is ready to make any sacrifice for the rights of bahujan samaj.
I came into politics to fight for the rights of the Dalits. I have no greed for power. As long as I continue to get support from the Dalit community, nobody can stop me from being an MP. I am ready to make any kind of sacrifice for the rights, respect and safety of the Dalit community. I cannot go against the government or the party. Hence it is my responsibility to fight the government for the rights of Bahujans.Savitri Bai Phoole, BJP MP, Bahraich
‘The Constitution is No One’s Property’
First time MP, 37-year-old Phoole did not refrain from attacking the prime minister and the chief minister.
Whether it is the prime minister, chief minister, MP, IAS, or IPS, whatever post someone belongs to they first swear by the Indian Constitution that whatever they do would be under the constitutional framework. We regard the Indian Constitution as the highest authority. Hence, to keep the constitution running we are ready to bear the consequences. The Constitution is no one’s property. This was drafted by Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is our leader. If today we are taking forward his legacy, we have the responsibility to preserve it.Savitri Bai Phoole, BJP MP, Bahraich
The BJP is in power in 21 states of the country. Therefore, the party cannot overlook the incidents of atrocities on Dalits and brush the issue under the carpet by calling it a situation of law and order gone wrong. The 2019 elections are also fast approaching and the BJP would not wish to upset the Dalits. In such a situation, apart from fighting the Opposition, the party’s real challenge would be to not upset their own MPs like Savitri Bai Phoole.
(This story was first published on Quint Hindi.)