Dalit Members 'Cleanse' Ambedkar Statue After Tributes By Maneka Gandhi, BJP Leaders

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Amid attacks from the Opposition, Narendra Modi reached out to Dalits and tribals by unveiling several pro-poor schemes in this Maoist-affected, low-literacy district in Chhattisgarh's Bastar on Dalit icon BR Ambedkar's 127th birth anniversary on Saturday.

"The prime minister's choice to launch his most ambitious programme of Ayushman Bharat from the tribal district that is counted among the most backward districts of the country and that too on the birth anniversary of Ambedkarji is very significant", Dinesh Kashyap, BJP MP from Bastar said. But the permission was withdrawn in the last minute, in the same manner in which the permission to hold a Dalit self-respect meeting was cancelled on February 4, said committee secretary V.K. Mohanan.

On April 12, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked state governments to take precautionary steps to prevent violence or incidents of vandalism ahead of Ambedkar Jayanti.

After Gandhi and other leaders garlanded the statue and left, the members of the community washed the statue with milk and water, saying the BJP leaders' presence had "polluted" the atmosphere.

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Punjab's Phagwara was tense after a communal clash broke out between a Dalit and a Hindu outfit over renaming of a traffic intersection in a bid to pay tribute to Ambedkar late Friday night. "We remain indebted to him for his efforts towards the making of our Constitution".

On this occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind paid floral tributes to Dr B.R. Ambedkar here at Parliament House Lawns this morning.

He said Ambedkar had recognised the difference between India and other countries and accordingly prepared plans for shaping future of the country. Rupani said the government was always committed to protect the rights, given in the Constitution, of any community.

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