Savitri Bai Phule, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh has announced a ‘Bharatiya Samvidhan Arakshan Bachao Andolan' rally in Lucknow on April 1, against “anti-SC/ST policies of Government of India.” The rally will be organised at Kanshi Ram Shanti Upvan in Lucknow, Phule told National Herald on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to National Herald on the phone, a livid Phule said “Sometimes it’s being said that we have come to change the Constitution, sometimes it is said that the reservation policy would be cancelled, sometimes it is said that we will dilute the reservation policy—which is given by the Constitution—to the level that it will be of no use. If reservations and Constitution are not safe, how will the rights of the Bahujan people be protected?”
It can be recalled that in September 2015 Mohan Bhagwat, sarsanghchalak of BJP’s parent organisation RSS, had pitched for a review of the reservation policy, contending it has been used for political ends. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had shortly after said that reservations would not be diluted. In December 2017, Union Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development Ananth Kumar Hegde had said that the BJP had come to power to "change the constitution".
When asked what if BJP takes action against her for speaking out against the party, Savitri Phule told National Herald “Who else will fight for my rights if I do not fight for them? In democracy, we can fight for our rights. Any action taken against me would be equal to an action against the Constitution”
What has upset several SC/ST MPs across party lines most recently is the dilution of the stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 through a Supreme Court ruling. On March 23, another Dalit BJP MP Udit Raj, who represents North-West Delhi and also hails from Uttar Pradesh, told National Herald that the government immediately needs to file a review petition, or pass the bill in the Parliament again, as "Weakening of SC/ST (PoA) Act is not acceptable in any circumstances”.
“Not only me but Uma Bharti, Udit Raj, Anupriya Patel, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha and many more have expressed their concern about the [dilution of] SC/ST (PoA) Act. I think all leaders from Bahujan Samaj should come together to save the constitution,” Phule claimed to NH.
Paswan, Ramdas Athawale and Kushwaha, all Union Ministers from NDA allies Lok Janshakti Party, Republican Party of India (A) and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, respectively, have all asked the government to file a review petition of the Supreme Court judgment.
On the question of whether she believes her party will file the review petition, Phule said “Under constitutional provisions, we, the people from SC/ST community have been given certain rights and we are fighting for those rights. We are not snatching other's rights. Why are our rights being snatched? Wherever we go, we get disappointment. Nobody hears us,” said Phule.
On our question of whether she has raised these issues within the party, she said “I have raised these issues many times in the Lok Sabha. The party knows my stand. Persecution of the SC/ST community is the highest in the country, but they have not been granted equal status yet. They are denied reservation in government jobs, in promotion, in universities.”
When asked what if BJP takes action against her for speaking out against the party, Phule said “Who else will fight for us, for my rights, if I do not fight for them. Is it a crime to fight for our own rights? Will I be banned from fighting for my right to reservation? In democracy, we can fight for our rights. Any action taken against me would be equal to an action against the Constitution.”