NEW DELHI: On the 132nd death anniversary of social reformer Jyotiba Phule, the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (AICSSO) demanded that the new Parliament building should be named after Bhimrao Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and a champion of Dalit and minority rights. To build pressure on the Centre, the AICSSO organised a public rally at the historic Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on November 28.
Along with the organisation’s Chairman Udit Raj, the other prominent people present at the rally were Harish Rawat, former chief minister of Uttarakhand and Rajasthan Congress MP Ramnarayan Meena. Previously a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from North West Delhi, Udit Raj is now with the Congress Party. Bhagwati Chaudhary, former Congress MLA from UP, RD Prajapati, ex-MLA from Madhya Pradesh, and Dalit scholar Om Sudha also attended the rally.
Attacking the BJP governments at the Centre and states, Udit Raj said naming and renaming buildings and places have become a common practice. Mughalsarai is now Deendayal Upadhyaya Nagar, Faizabad is Ayodhya and Sardar Patel Stadium is Narendra Modi Stadium. The BJP, he said, will hijack Ambedkar’s legacy and name the new Parliament building after its ideologues Shyama Prasad Mukherjee or Deendayal Upadhyaya.
He further said that increasing privatisation has worsened the plight of the people belonging to SC and ST communities. Today, governments, both Central and state, are using ‘contract system’ while hiring and allocating or awarding projects. This, he said, is being done to bypass the equality provisions constitutionally guaranteed to the SCs, STs, and OBCs. “Dalits and Adivasis are already excluded from the market, financial world, media and many other mainstreams.
Privatisation has further marginalised them,” he said. The main demands raised at the rally were, an immediate ban on the privatisation of public institutions and properties; reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs in private sector and higher judiciary; reservation in Government contracts for them; and a mandatory caste-based census.
Udit Raj Chairman, AICSSO
Since it was organised under the AICSSO banner, and not the Congress, the rally failed to attract grassroots workers of the party. The timing of the rally – in the middle of the civic body elections in Delhi, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Joda Yatra and Assembly elections in two states, perhaps, made it difficult for the organisers to mobilise a bigger crowd.
Disappointed at the low turnout, and also frustrated by indiscipline at the rally, Udit Raj said the right-wing parties were doing way better electorally because they are undeterred in their resolve. “Manuvadi and fascists are extremists; they are undeterred. Come rain or shine, they don’t move. But, we can’t even make people sit down,” he said angrily.
He also expressed his unhappiness at the “low contribution” of funds for hosting the rally. “If you don’t participate and contribute, there will be no fights in the future,” he said, adding that for any political agitation to succeed, both “dhan” (funds) and “bal” (resolve) are required.