BJP always a well-wisher of Dalits: Thawarchand Gehlot

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New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot on Monday hit back at Congress President Rahul Gandhi over his allegations against the BJP concerning the Dalits, saying party members have worked for the community’s empowerment from the days of erstwhile Jan Sangh.

In a series of tweets, Gehlot said that the Modi government had taken several steps for empowerment of Dalits and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 had been strengthened by it in 2015.

“BJP has been a well-wisher of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs from the days of Jan Sangh. The party has taken several historical decisions in their interest. The Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) government amended the constitution to restore their constitutional rights,” Gehlot said, referring to its measure to ensure benefits of seniority and protect consequential seniority of employees who get a promotion by virtue of reservations.

Gehlot said Modi government strengthened the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, widely observed the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and declared five places associated with him as ‘panchtirath’ among other measures.

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“And Rahulji, I want to also tell you that Modi government has decided to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. All this shows that the BJP government is fully committed to safeguarding interests of these sections and will remain so,” he said.

Citing a BJP tweet claiming a 17.3 percent increase in crimes against Dalits during the UPA rule between 2009 and 2013, he alleged Congress-led governments had not put their trust on the people from backward communities and only used Dalits and weaker sections as vote banks.

Earlier, Gandhi had alleged that it was “in the DNA of the RSS/BJP, to keep Dalits at the lowest notch in the Indian society”.