In his second visit to Telangana in less than a week, ahead of the Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong outreach to the Dalit community, particularly the Madigas, who make up 60 per cent of the Scheduled Caste community in the state. PM Modi announced the formation of a committee to empower Madigas and look into the sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes, which has been a three-decade-old demand of the community.
The promise is significant because the Madigas can decisively influence the outcome in 20-25 seats in the 119-strong Telangana assembly, where the number needed for a majority is 60.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a rally in Secunderabad organised by the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi, whose founder, Manda Krishna Madiga, broke down when PM Modi said he supports him and his cause. The PM was seen consoling the leader, who later announced his organisation’s support for Narendra Modi and the BJP.
The PM also hit out at the Bharat Rashtra Samithi and the Congress, accusing them of being anti-Dalit.
Committee To Be Formed
“We are committed to ending this injustice at the earliest. It is our promise that we will soon constitute a committee that will adopt all possible ways to empower you (the Madiga community). You and we also know that a big legal process is going on in the Supreme Court. We consider your struggle to be just,” the PM said.
“We will ensure justice. It is the top priority of the Government of India to see to it that you get justice in court also. With full strength, the Government of India will stand in favour of justice as your colleague,” he added.
The Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised the need for equitable welfare and social justice
It was at this point that Manda Krishna Madiga got emotional and broke into tears, and the PM was later seen consoling him, holding his hands.
In a post on X, the PM said, “Today’s public meeting will remain etched in my memory. The affection from my Dalit sisters and brothers, my Madiga sisters and brothers is tremendous. I salute my brother Manda Krishna Madiga for his efforts towards empowering people.”
Thank you Hyderabad.
Today’s public meeting will remain etched in my memory. The affection from my Dalit sisters and brothers, my Madiga sisters and brothers is tremendous.
I salute my brother Manda Krishna Madiga for his efforts towards empowering people.
Some glimpses… pic.twitter.com/OLrXlkIOEK
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 11, 2023
Attacks on Congress, BRS
PM Modi also attacked the Congress party, saying it did not allow the architect of India’s Constitution, BR Ambedkar, to win elections twice.
He also said that the Congress had not honoured Ambedkar with the Bharat Ratna and India’s highest civilian honour was conferred on him only in 1990, after a BJP-supported government was formed at the Centre.
“The Congress did not allow Babasaheb Ambedkar to win twice. For decades, it ensured that Babasaheb’s portrait was not put up in the old Parliament’s Central Hall. He was not given the Bharat Ratna for decades because of the Congress,” he alleged.
The Prime Minister did not spare the BRS either. He said that during the agitation for a separate state of Telangana, which was formed in 2014, the party had promised to make a Dalit the chief minister. But Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had “encroached” on the chair after crushing the aspirations of every Dalit, he alleged.
“BRS is anti-Dalit and the Congress is no less than that,” he said.
The PM added that political parties and leaders had made promises to Madigas and betrayed them. “I am apologising for their sins,” he said.
The PM’s last visit to Telangana was on November 7, when he had addressed an Other Backward Classes gathering. The choice of events suggests that the BJP is trying to consolidate the OBC and SC/ST votes in Telangana, where the BRS has been in power since its formation.
Dalits comprise 17 per cent of the population in Telangana and Madigas account for nearly 60 per cent of the community.
Critics questioned the announcement of a committee to look into sub-categorisation, pointing out that the BJP had promised it would do so within 100 days of coming to power.
They also pointed out that multiple commissions have studied the issue and given their recommendations.
Telangana will vote on November 30 and the counting will take place on December 3.
(With inputs from PTI)