Source: Daily News & Analysis
On the 127th birth anniversary of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a pair of slippers to an elderly tribal woman in Chhatisgarh’s Naxal-infested Bijapur district and touched her feet.
Modi also launched a host of welfare schemes in Jangala, including the flagship Ayushman Bharat, stated to be the largest health cover in the world, and credited his own rise to the PM’s post to the Dalit icon. Chhattisgarh goes to the polls next year.
Modi said backward sections of the society had awakened to their rights due to Ambedkar. “The son of a poor mother could become prime minister due to Babasaheb Ambedkar,” he said.
The PM said his government was working on new ideas of development for 115 backward districts of the country.
“As many as 115 backward districts in the country will be given priority in the Ayushman Bharat scheme,” Modi said. “We can’t reach new destinations by treading old paths. New models of development are needed to be chalked out and the Centre has been working in these areas,” he said.
Modi cited the Gram Swaraj Yojana, also launched on Saturday, which would focus on the welfare of the poor, Dalits, tribals, women and backward sections of society.
Paying tribute to Ambedkar, Modi said the father of the Indian Constitution was educated abroad, but came back to India and dedicated his life to the uplift of Dalits. “It is because of Ambedkar that Dalits have realised their rights and aspirations to live a dignified life and the government is working to fulfil their wishes and aspirations,” he said.
Modi also counterposed Ambedkar with the Naxals. He said that Ambedkar had given India a Constitution with provisions to protect the rights of backward classes. “Babasaheb has given us the Constitution. He ensured protection of your rights… It is the duty of the government to take care of your rights. You need not pick up weapons… ruin your lives,” he said.
The Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to develop and upgrade sub-centres and primary health centres in 1.5 lakh villages by 2022.
The PM also inaugurated several development projects including a new rail line, Internet services, roads and bridges. He launched Van Dhan scheme under which Van Vikas Kendras would be established to ensure better marketing and value addition to minor forest produce to benefit adivasis.
Modi is the first prime minister to visit the tribal district of Bijapur and this was his fourth visit to Chhattisgarh, where Assembly elections are due later this year.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Health Minister J P Nadda were also present on the occasion.
The Congress, meanwhile, accused the BJP of ‘eroding’ the legacy of Ambedkar and said the PM was merely paying him lip service for his party and that the RSS had an ‘anti-Dalit mindset’. “The BJP and RSS have an ‘anti-Dalit’ mindset as their government has abolished the sub-plan for SC/STs, have talked of ending reservation and amendment to the Constitution which was framed by Ambedkar,” said Kumari Selja.