Lucknow: In an indication of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s emerging political strategy in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati reacted swiftly and sharply to the praise RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat showered in his Vijay Dashami speech on those working lawfully for cow protection. By applauding people “indulging in unlawful, violent and casteist” acts, the BSP leader said, the Sangh parivar was working to weaken India.
“Going against public sentiment and praising gau rakshaks several of whose unlawful, violent and casteist acts have come to light cannot be termed as something that is in national interest,” Mayawati said in a statement.
Bhagwat’s support for what he termed ‘true’ gau rakhshaks was the product of communal thinking, Mayawati said. The RSS’s focus should be gau seva, or serving the cow, which she described as an “act of non-violence”. But cow protection – gau raksha – has “violence inherent in it” and leads to incidents like the one in Una, Gujarat where Dalit men were assaulted by an upper caste throng for skinning a dead cow. The shocking incident was recorded by the attackers and circulated on social media, leading to political outrage across the country. Anxious about the impact of the footage on the BJP’s poll prospects in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and other states where Dalits form a significant section of the electorate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the violent ways of cow protection vigilantes.
Mayawati, on her part, has said the Una incident is evidence of the casteism and communalism that has thrived ever since the BJP formed the government at the Centre in 2014.
In her statement on Tuesday, she said that violent incidents in the name of cow protection have been taking place in BJP-ruled states. Ever since the Modi government came to power, first Muslims and now Dalits are being targeted on the pretext of protecting cows, she added.
“Despite this, the RSS chief’s statement for extending security to gau rakshaks can never be an act aimed at strengthening the nation,” she said. Though the RSS chief speaks about uniting society, in reality he is supporting those who work against it, she alleged.
The former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh – who is seen by the BJP as its principal opponent in the upcoming assembly elections – also alleged there was an attempt to torch two Dalits in Gorakhpur recently and termed it a result of casteist policies of the Samajwadi Party government.
Earlier in the day, the RSS chief backed “countless good people” working lawfully for cow protection and said they should not be compared with those creating trouble in its name.
“There should be a distinction between the two”, he said blaming “trouble-makers” for not making this distinction.
(With inputs from PTI)