Dalits upset at Ambedkar Mahasabha’s ‘Dalit Mitra’ award to Yogi 

Members of the Ambedkar Mahasabha in Uttar Pradesh are in open revolt after the Mahasabha’s decision to honour Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with its first ‘Dalit Mitra Award’

Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Biswajeet Banerjee

A leading Dalit organisation in Uttar Pradesh, Ambedkar Mahasabha, is in a soup over its decision to honour Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with its first 'Dalit Mitra Award’ as its members have openly revolted against this decision, saying it is against the tenets of the Mahasabha.

The Dalit Mitra award would be given to the Chief Minister on April 14—Ambedkar Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar—in a function to be held at the Mahasabha office.

Two of the founder members of the Mahasabha—retired IPS officer SR Darapuri and retired IAS officer Harish Chandra have threatened to call for an Annual General Meeting if the Mahasabha does not rescind this order.

“The way this decision (to confer Dalit Mitra Award to CM) was taken, it seems Mahasabha president Lalji Prasad Nirmal is in the hands of BJP,” Chandra told this reporter on Friday. “How can one think of conferring the Award to CM when atrocities on Dalits are on the rise. This is really a shame to even think about this,” he said. Chandra added that the Mahasabha was formed to spread the ideas and principles of BR Ambedkar, and not to serve personal interests of anyone.

Darapuri said: “We will request Yogi Adityanath himself to decline the award."

He said an Annual General Meeting (AGM) should be called to take disciplinary action against president Nirmal, saying he had overstepped his authority by announcing an award to the CM. “Dalits are angry because of atrocities inflicted on them during Yogi's rule. Constituting an award and giving it to Yogi will amount to rubbing salt into their wounds," Darapuri said.

Ambedkar Mahasabha founder member, retired IAS officer Harish Chandra told National Herald, “The way this decision (to confer Dalit Mitra Award to CM) was taken, it seems Mahasabha president Lalji Prasad Nirmal is in the hands of BJP. How can one think of conferring the Award to CM when atrocities on Dalits are on the rise. This is really a shame to even think about this”

Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar too in a statement  said that atrocities on Dalits have increased. "As far as award to UP CM is concerned, it should be seen that deserving people who have worked for Dalit rights should get such a felicitation," he said in a statement.

However, Ambedkar Mahasabha president Lalji Prasad Nirmal defended his act, saying that there is nothing wrong in giving the prestigious award to the CM.

"Yogi ji is doing a lot of work for the uplift of Dalits and other communities. Some people are unnecessarily trying to create politics over the issue but it would not deter us from our move," he said, while confirming that he had also spoken to Yogi Adityanath about conferring of the award.

He said: "Rumours are being spread that I am seeking a berth in the UP Legislative Council. I am a committed member of the Mahasabha, which runs on donations and with the blessings of Dalits."

Ambedkar Mahasaba, founded in 1998 in Lucknow, has gained importance over the years with politicians making a beeline to its office here on Vidhan Sabha Marg, just opposite the state assembly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several others have visited the Mahasabha in the recent past.

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