Lucknow: The Bahraich Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, Savitri Bai Phule, who recently joined the Congress after resigning from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of attempting to change the Constitution of India.
In an interview with Newsclick, the sitting dalit MP said that it was not BJP which was governing the country, but the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that was ruling India, with its members, including Modi and some party top brass trying their best to replace the Constitution of India framed by Babsaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar with Manusmriti, an ancient text based on which many Hindu laws were framed during colonial rule.
The resignation of the dalit MP from the BJP, who had been critical of the party for about a year now, has come as a major jolt for the saffron party as Phule has a solid vote bank in the Bahraich Lok Sabha constituency.
Before the 2014 elections, Modi had even asked her to contest elections from Gujarat but she had refused. In Uttar Pradesh, Phule is seen as a strong competitor to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati. Over the past six months, before resigning from BJP, she travelled to reserved constituencies and Dalit areas to expose BJP for seeking dalit votes but nothing for them. Surpisingly, BJP never took any disciplinary action against her. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Why did you resign from BJP?
Phule: I was hurt with the anti-Dalit, anti-backward, and anti-Muslim ideology of the party. On one hand, the BJP leaders speak for them but on the other, they boycott the issues of Dalits and Muslims. The Prime Minister praised Ambedkar Saheb just for getting votes, while on the other hand, many statues of Ambedkarji were demolished or vandalised in many parts of the country. No one in the government ever tried to take any action against the people who did this.
Did you ever talk to the party (BJP) bosses about these issues?
Phule: Yes, I always kept forth my issues with the senior party leadership. I even raised these issues in the Lok Sabha and later met Prime Minister Modi in his cabin in Parliament. He listened to me but unfortunately no action was taken by him also.
I even gave it in writing on my official letter head to Prime Minister Modi, but he did not pay any heed to my request.
Why do you feel that the BJP is trying to change the Constitution?
Phule: Read the newspapers and you will know. The Constitution of India gave equal rights to everyone, but are Dalits or people of the Bahujan Samaj being treated equally? No.
The government is spending on temples, on construction of statutes but nothing has been done on the development front.
You say BJP is an anti-dalit party but the Prime Minister washed the feet of sanitation workers at the Kumbh Mela. What do you have to say on this?
Phule: What will these sanitation workers get after getting their feet washed by the Prime Minister? The PM should have given them an assurance that they would get jobs or something that could have changed their lives instead. This is all a political stunt being done in view of the elections round the corner.
Why did you join Congress which has lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, when you had an option to join BSP? Congress has always been dubbed as a brahminical party.
Phule: See the Congress was able to get the votes of Dalits, backwards and Muslims in the Assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The Bahujan Samaj is again going to support the Congress and not fall for fake promises by our dramebaaz (theatrical) Prime Minister.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is working like the “B-team” of the BJP. After the demise of Kanshiramji, Mayawati is on the wrong track. Today, no one talks about the uplift of minorities.
From where are you going to contest the elections? Has the Congress assured you a ticket?
Phule: Yes, party chief Rahul Gandhi and UP East in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have assured me of a ticket to contest Lok Sabha polls from Bahraich. Priyankaji told me in the meeting to be prepared for a bigger role and had asked me to start the campaign.
At this point, I would also like to add that a fair probe should be ordered into the Pulwama attack where at least 42 CRPF jawans were killed. People responsible for this attack should be hanged.