The Congress is more interested in ‘Baba Bhole’ than DR BR Ambedkar these days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, in a veiled jibe at Rahul Gandhi who has been visiting temples as part of his poll campaign in Gujarat.
The Congress vice president has visited over a dozen temples in the poll-bound state even as the critics accused the party of playing “soft Hindutva” card.
Dedicating to the nation Dr Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi, the Prime Minister said “a particular family” -- an indirect reference to the Nehru-Gandhi family-- wanted to erase the contributions of Ambedkar who drafted India’s Constitution and was the first law minister of the country.
Attempts made to underplay Ambedkar’s efforts towards nation building proved futile as his ideas continue to inspire people, said Modi.
“Attempts to erase Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s role failed, he has been more influential in the minds of people, much more than the family for which all this was done,” the PM said.
He said the Congress had planned the centre in 1992 but it was only now during the BJP’s tenure that work was completed.
“The party that went to seek votes in his name, would not even know this…in any case these days they are more interested in Baba Bhole (Lord Shiva) than Baba Ambedkar,” he said.
Gujarat is also witnessing an intense battle between the BJP and the Congress over the votes of Dalits who constitute about 7 % of the state’s population.
Two-phase elections for the state’s 182 assembly seats will be held on December 9 and 14.
The Prime Minister said Ambedkar Centre will function as a think-tank for inclusive growth and related socio-economic matters in line with Ambedkar’s push for socio-economic equality.
He said his government was making endeavors to not only pay homage to Ambedkar by developing places he was associated with as ‘pilgrimage sites’, but also bringing in policies such as Jan Dhan, Swachh Bharat and Ujjawala that eradicate socio-economic disparities.
He said poor people have been empowered by government initiatives such as the RuPay debit card and free gas connections to poor families.
The Prime Minister also mentioned programmes were taking off the ground either on time or ahead of the deadline.
“We had said that in one year we will build toilets for girls in all government schools, we have already constructed over 4 lakh such facilities. We had said in 1,000 days we will provide electricity to 18000 villages that had no power, today ahead of that deadline we are left with only 2000 villages to electrify,” he said.