Reaching out to the Dalits with the assembly and Lok Sabha elections approaching, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday urged for more representation for the community in the Congress party 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 elections as they had ignored the Dalits, never bothered to go to their homes or "hold their hands and understand their problems".
Gandhi said the Dalit community "needs the escape velocity of Jupiter" to achieve success.
The Gandhi scion dwelt on astronomy to explain to the Vigyan Bhavan audience the phenomenon of escape velocity -- or the speed that an object needs to be travelling to break free of a planet or moon's gravity.
Addressing a function on National Awareness Camp for Scheduled Castes Empowerment at Vigyan Bhavan, 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.
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".
At 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", Gandhi 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 also attacked the opposition parties.
"Congress is the party for the poor, our opposition does not understand the problems of the poor. They don't go to their homes and hold their hands or discuss their problems," he said.
"And then they speak of India shining. And lose the polls. They lost it in 2004, in 2009 and will lose again in 2014," he said.
"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, the Congress leader also enumerated the legislation brought by the United Progressive Alliance government (UPA), 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 kayenge aur Congress ko vote deyenge (Will sleep on full stomachs and vote for Congress)" due to the food security act brought recently.
--Indo-Asian News service