A showdown is in the offing between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several Dalit organisations, as well as opposition parties, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar on Saturday.
The BJP on one side and Dalit organisations, as well as opposition parties, on the other, are set to hold competing events to mark the birth anniversary of the architect of the Constitution and Dalit icon Ambedkar.
If the BJP has asked its workers and leaders to visit nearly 21,000 villages and spend the night in Dalit homes, Dalit leaders on Thursday said Dalit organisations will mark April 14 as 'protect constitution day'.
The BJP has asked its workers to spread the message of Modi government's social welfare policies in Dalit villages. The PM is also slated to inaugurate a memorial of Ambedkar's.
Dalit leaders, who held a meeting here on Thursday, demanded the Centre issue an ordinance on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which the Supreme Court order of March 20 had diluted.
The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that its recent judgement on the SC/ST Act has "diluted" the provisions of the law, resulting in "great damage" to the country, and steps may be taken to correct it.
It said the top court verdict, which had dealt with an issue of a "very sensitive nature", has caused "commotion", "anger, unease and a sense of disharmony" in the country.
The government also said the "confusion" created by the apex court verdict may have to be corrected by reviewing the judgement and recalling the directions issued by it.
Dalit leaders, including Prakash Ambedkar, Srinivas Rao and Ashok Bharti, also demanded the Centre include the Act in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. The Ninth Schedule provides protection to legislations placed under it. A law placed under the Schedule is not open to judicial scrutiny.
Prakash Ambedkar said the government should bring a legislation in the Monsoon Session of Parliament to ensure adequate representation of Dalits and Tribals in the judiciary. Dalit leaders said they will launch protests if Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to announce these decisions at his independence day speech on August 15.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked states to take measures to prevent any untoward incidents on Ambedkar's birth anniversary. The Centre as well BJP-ruled state governments were found wanting in their security preparedness during the April 2 'Bharat bandh' call against the Supreme Court judgement.
But Dalit leaders ruled out any protest. "It is a day to celebrate Ambedkar and his legacy, not protest," Bharti said.
On April 14, the PM will visit Bijapur in Chhattisgarh and open the first health centre under Ayushman Bharat Scheme. On Friday, the PM is set to inaugurate a memorial dedicated to Ambedkar in Delhi.
On Thursday, BJP chief Amit Shah led party leaders and union ministers to observe a fast to protest the Congress "throttling" democracy in Parliament. He also wrote a blog on the subject.
The PM was in Tamil Nadu to attend the DefExpo, where Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) workers, and that of other outfits, protested his visit by showing him black flags for the Centre not constituting the Cauvery River Management Board.
The BJP continued to face criticism over the Unnao and Kathua rape cases. Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua as "unimaginable brutality" that cannot go unpunished.
"How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil," he asked, adding that the violence against the child was a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished," he said on Twitter.
"What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child," he tweeted.