New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday spoke out forcefully for empowering the Dalits, saying the community needs the “escape velocity of Jupiter” to achieve success and attacked BSP leader Mayawati, saying she was not allowing other Dalit leaders to rise.
Addressing two back-to-back functions in the capital on the empowerment of Dalits, Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the opposition, saying they would lose the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as they had ignored the Dalits, never bothered to go to their homes or “hold their hands and understand their problems”.
Reaching out to the Dalits with the assembly elections and the general elections in mind, Gandhi also urged for more representation for the community in the party.
Turning to astronomy, Rahul Gandhi said the Dalit community needs the “escape velocity of Jupiter” to achieve success.
He also explained to the audience the phenomenon of escape velocity - or the speed that an object needs to be traveling to break free of a planet or moon's gravity.
Addressing a function at Vigyan Bhavan on National Awareness Camp for Scheduled Castes Empowerment, Rahul Gandhi said B.R. Ambedkar was the first Dalit to attain escape velocity and after him Kanshi Ram channelised “the energy that was created due to reservation” and helped many Dalits attain escape velocity.
But he said Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, had captured the Dalit leadership and was not allowing others to rise.
He said the escape velocity needed to escape from Jupiter's atmosphere is much more than that of the Earth.
"The escape velocity for earth is 11.2 km/sec while that of Jupiter is 60 km/sec. In India we have the concept of caste. There is an escape velocity here also. For a Dalit to achieve success the escape velocity required is that of Jupiter. More effort is needed,” he stressed.
The Congress leader said if the movement for escape velocity has to be taken forward it needs the participation of lakhs of Dalit leaders.
He said he has asked prominent Dalit leaders in the Congress to systematically develop leadership at “panchayat, MLA, MP and policy level.”
In the Talkatora Stadium, Gandhi described the Dalits as the “reed ki haddi” or spine of the Congress party.
“The more representation you give them in the Congress party, it is not enough. These people are the spine of the Congress party and we must do more for them,"Gandhi said at the Dalit Adhikar Diwas (Dalit rights' day).
To loud cheers of “Rahul Gandhi zindabad”, “Rahul Gandhi is the messiah of the downtrodden and the India's rising star”, he said the Congress party would do everything to empower the Dalits and for training and educating them.
Pointing to the youth of the Valmiki community sitting in the stadium, Gandhi said those people sitting in the last seats should be brought forward.
“Their faces should be seen in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabhas” - making the entire audience erupt in cheers.
He attacked the opposition, saying it had never bothered to "hold the hands of the poor or interact with them".
"And then they speak of India Shining. And lose the polls. They lost it in 2004, in 2009 and will lose again in 2014," said the Gandhi scion.
"If you want to win elections, go to the homes of the poor and hold their hands and then go and win the elections," said Gandhi.
Addressing the Bhagwan Valmiki Foundation, which had organised the event, Gandhi enumerated the legislation brought by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, including on the right to education, food security, the rural employment guarantee scheme and the RTI.
He said earlier the slogan of the Congress was that "we shall sleep on half empty stomachs but vote for the Congress" and now it will be "Bhar pet khayenge aur Congress ko vote deyenge (Will sleep on full stomachs and vote for Congress)" due to the food security act brought recently.
Elaborating his feeling of empathy for the Dalits, he said: “Why do I feel taking the side of the person who is weak,” he said, and then went on to narrate an anecdote his grandmother Indira Gandhi had told him of when she had visited Germany to see an ice-hockey match.
“It was a match between Germany and some other team. The other team was being thrashed and the crowds were cheering," he said, adding that Indira Gandhi felt very bad and got up to cheer the weak team, but was shouted at. “She sat down out of fear.”
He said Indira Gandhi then resolved never again to be cowed down out of fear.