In a damage control exercise Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after students blamed union minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani's ministry for Rohith Vemula suicide and action against his friends, will attend a series of events from Friday to portray his party as pro-Dalits.
PM Modi will attend three functions one after another including convocation of the Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), distribution of e-rickshaws and visit to Bharat Ratna Bodhisatva Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Mahasabha for around four hours. Modi will be the chief guest at the sixth convocation of BBAU. During the convocation, he is expected to interact with a select beneficiaries for about 15 minutes. In what is seen as his first visit to Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow after becoming Prime Minister, Modi will offer floral tributes at the urn of Bhimrao Ambedkar at the Ambedkar Mahasabha office. BSP supremo Mayawati has not visited the Mahasabha office so far even though she claims to be the only leader of the Dalits.
According to agencies sources, PM decided to visit Ambedkar Mahasabha on the recommendation of UP Governor Ram Naik who himself had visited Mahasabha office last year, Ambedkar's urn was placed there by his wife Savita in 1991. He will also try to win over dalits vote bank after the recent controversy in Hyderabad University over student suicide. After the incident , BJP leader Sanjay Paswan, had to criticised the HRD ministry. "Smriti Irani should have responded earlier but really welcome her response. This not enough but is a general problem", he said.
Rohith, 26, hanged himself on Sunday, days after he and four other Dalit students were suspended by the Hyderabad University for allegedly beating up an activist of the BJP's student wing. Their access was barred to the hostel, library and cafeteria, though they were allowed to attend classes. Student protesters and opposition parties allege that the five Dalit students were subjected to caste discrimination.