Agra gears up for biggest Dalit empowerment show

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 03, 2010 08:10 hrs

Agra is gearing up for the annual three-day Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations starting April 14 that are seen as a demonstration of Dalit empowerment over the past decades.

Each year, a Bheem Nagri - the venue of the celebrations - comes up in a different area, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Arvind Pushkar told IANS.

'The main focus is on the Bheem Manch that has a new theme each year. Last year, it was the Parliament House. This year, the theme is Buddhist culture and trends,' Pushkar added.

Towards this, new roads are being built, water and power supply lines being laid, and civic amenities in six villages behind the Taj Mahal are being updated and streamlined.

The Agra Development Authority, the Municipal Corporation, Awas Vikas and half a dozen other agencies are pouring in their resources to provide upgraded facilities as lakhs of visitors are expected, along with a host of politicians.

The organising committee members said the whole 14-km stretch would be flood-lit with 'attractive display of lighting'.

The main dais will be 120 feet long, 80 feet high and 75 feet wide with the Kanshi Ram Memorial in Lucknow as the backdrop, flanked by pillars with Buddhist motifs, according to Devi Singh Azad, a senior member of the committee.

The state culture department, Uttar Pradesh Tourism and the Information and Public Relations department would arrange for artistes and programmes.

Organising committee members are upbeat as Chief Minister Mayawati is expected to announce a package of special developmental schemes for this Taj Mahal city, gearing up for the Commonwealth Games rush.

Dalits constitute more than one-third of the 20 lakh plus population of Agra, described often as the Dalit capital of north India.

'The city was a favourite of both B.R. Ambedkar and (Bahujan Samaj Party founder) Kanshi Ram,' Dalit activist Netra Pal Singh said.

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