‘Centre failed to declare national mourning when Kanshi Ram died’

A day after Rahul Gandhi attacked her, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Wednesday hit back at the Congress, accusing the party of adopting a “casteist’’ attitude towards her party founder Kanshi Ram by not declaring a national mourning on his death.

Addressing party workers at the Bahujan Prerna Kendra here to mark the seventh death anniversary of Kanshi Ram, Ms. Mayawati said parties, especially the Congress, were opposed to the late Dalit leader and ignored him.

“It is condemnable that the Congress at the Centre did not declare even a single day’s mourning when Kanshi Ram passed away. For this our people will never forgive it. This indeed is proof of the party’s anti-Dalit bias.”

The Congress vice-president on Tuesday accused Ms. Mayawati of capturing the leadership of the Dalit movement and preventing others from growing. Speaking at a programme for the National Awareness for Scheduled Caste Empowerment, he said that “lakhs of Dalit leaders were needed for Dalit empowerment and for this the Congress will identify people and involve them in decision-making processes.”

She said Mr. Kanshi Ram dedicated his life to taking forward the “self-respect movement” of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He politically organised Dalits, backwards and exploited sections and formed the BSP on April 14, 1984 to take forward the movement and gain the “master key” to power. But because of his illness, he could not achieve the goal. “It is now left to the BSP movement and all those who back it to ensure that his dream of a just and an equitable society is realised.”

The BSP, with 21 members in the Lok Sabha lends outside support to the United Progressive Alliance government.