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Ravidas Temple row: BJP accuses AAP of playing ‘divisive politics’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 23, 2019 Published on October 23, 2019

The demolition of the temple by Centre-run DDA has spurred AAP into terming BJP as anti-Dalit

The BJP on Wednesday mounted a determined offensive on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for “playing divisive politics” over the demolition of a Ravidas temple in the Tughlaqabad area of the National Capital Region (NCR).

The temple was demolished by the Centre-run Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in August 2019, following a Supreme Court order, as it was located in the land designated as a protected forest.

The demolition followed fierce protests by Dalit groups while the ruling AAP accused the BJP of having an “anti-Dalit mindset” as Sant Ravidas is followed by the Ravidasi sect among the Scheduled Castes. A number of Dalit activists, including the Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, were arrested following the protests over temple demolition.

Centre takes a U-turn

In Delhi, where elections are the due in February, Dalits comprise approximately 16 per cent of the electorate. There is a large Dalit community in neighbouring Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh. Both AAP and BJP are vying for this crucial vote and have already started the election campaign in Delhi.

The Centre has accordingly taken a U-Turn on the issue with Attorney General K K Venugopal telling the Supreme Court on Monday that the Centre will allot double the area of land, about 400 square metres, for the reconstruction of the temple. The Supreme Court has since agreed to allow the reconstruction of the Ravidas temple and ordered the release of activists arrested in the protests against the temple demolition.

The BJP on Wednesday fielded its General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav and former President of the ruling party’s Scheduled Caste Morcha Dushyant Kumar Gautam to allege that the AAP and Congress have “vitiated” the atmosphere and are playing divisive politics on a sensitive issue.

“The BJP welcomes the Supreme Court order for reconstruction of the Ravidas temple. It is very unfortunate that AAP has tried to draw political gains from a sensitive and emotive issue. They played with the feelings of the people and tried to stir social unrest whereas the BJP has already initiated the process of doubling the area of land where the temple originally built,” said Bhupendra Yadav.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Ravidas temple in Varanasi and called for propagating the social message of Sant Ravidas.

“Sant Ravidas ji worked for social harmony and against caste discrimination and for an egalitarian society. He is a national icon. There should be no petty politics on his legacy,” said Yadav.

Published on October 23, 2019
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