New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the government's anti-Dalit mindset became clear when Prime Minister Narendra Modi rewarded with re-employment a judge who diluted an act that sought to deter atrocities against the marginalised.
He said the Bharatiya Janata Party and the governments it led at the Centre and in state had no space for Dalits in their hearts.
"If Modiji had space for Dalits in his heart, then the policies for Dalits would have been different," Gandhi said.
The Congress leader was addressing a protest rally by Dalits and tribals at Janatar Mantar.
Gandhi said when Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister he wrote in a book that "Daliton ko safai karne se anand milta hai" (Dalits feel happy when they do cleaning work).
"This is his (Modi's) ideology," Gandhi said.
He said the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was brought by the Congress when his father Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
"But that was allowed to be diluted by Modiji. And the judge who diluted the act was given a promotion," he said, referring to the appointment of Justice AK Goel as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairman
Justices Goel and UU Lalit had in a March 20 ruling laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a "preliminary enquiry" before registration of a case under the act, citing instances of its abuse for political or personal reasons.
The ruling angered Dalits. On July 6, Justice Goel retired from the Supreme Court. On the same day, he was appointed the NGT chairman.
The government, however, made an amendment to the 1989 act that overturned the Supreme Court ruling and restored the provision for immediate arrest of an accused. The amendment was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
Gandhi in his speech said it was not enough to protect the interests of the Dalits in the country.
He said whereever the BJP was in government, Dalits were being "beaten up and suppressed".
Pointing out the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a University of Hyderabad PhD student, the Congress leader said Dalits were crushed if they tried to advance in life.
"We don't want an India where Dalits are suppressed. We want an India where everyone grows.
"His (Modi's) thinking is anti-Dalit... The entire country will stand up against him, the BJP and the RSS."