New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The government came in for strident attack in the Lok Sabha from the opposition which claimed that the Dalits had lost confidence in it.
A CPI-M member even urged the Prime Minister not only to give statements on the Dalits but also act in the matter.
On their part, BJP members defended the government, citing several schemes initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Dalits, and said the opposition was raising such issues since the Dalits were coming closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Initiating a discussion on the atrocities on Dalits, Communist Party of India-Marxist member P.K. Biju from Kerala claimed a substantial increase in atrocities against the Dalits whereas the community had not seen any improvement in their condition on education and social parameters.
Biju, representing Alathur constituency, said over 37 per cent of the Dalits in the country live below the poverty line while at least one Dalit is attacked every 18 minutes.
“You have enough provisions to protect the Dalits in the country, but who will protect us?” he asked and urged Modi to emerge as a “true custodian” of the people.
Referring to Modi’s statement that he (Prime Minister) and not the Dalits be attacked, the Marxist MP said such statements only reflect that the issue of attacks on the Dalits is serious.
“I request the Prime Minister not to confine (himself) to only giving statements but also show action,” Biju said.
There is a need for “political will” to control incidents of violence and atrocities against the Dalits, he said.
Congress member K.H. Muniyappa said that atrocities against the Dalits have increased ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government came to power at the Centre.
“The community has lost confidence in the present government. This will be reflected in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
He demanded special schools for Scheduled Castes and Tribes students on the pattern of Navodaya Vidyalayas.
BJP members Udit Raj and Arjun Ram Meghwal defended the government, saying the Modi government had initiated schemes for the social and economic uplift of the community.
“The root cause of the atrocities is the social thinking of the people and until it changes, the problem cannot be addressed,” Udit Raj said.
He said it was Modi who categorically made it clear that the NDA government is against people involved in hooliganism in the name of cow protection.
The BJP member blamed the judicial system for not taking up atrocities cases promptly and said such a situation had encouraged the people to commit unlawful acts against the Dalits.
Meghwal, Minister of State for Finance, said the Modi government is focused on the economic uplift of the Dalits.
“‘Mudra Yojana’, ‘Stand-up India’ and ‘Startup India’ programmes are initiated for the economic uplift of the Dalits. No previous government thought of this. The social uplift of the community is not possible if they are not economically sound,” he said.
The minister said the opposition parties are raising such issues because the Dalits are coming closer to the BJP.