New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) The BJP today kicked off a series of programmes aimed at reaching out to Dalits and backward sections of society with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that his government is working to realise the visions of Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar and social reformer Jyotiba Phule.

The party observed the birth anniversary of Phule, who is venerated — especially by Dalits and backwards — for his relentless struggle for social reforms, as ‘Samta Diwas’ (equality day) today. It will launch the ‘Gram Swaraj’ campaign on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14.

The BJP’s high-visibility campaigns, which are aimed at highlighting the Modi government’s works for the poor, come against the backdrop of protests by Dalit groups across the country.

Modi, in an audio conference call, told the party’s law-makers in state legislatures and Parliament that his government had been striving to realise the dreams of Mahamta Gandhi, Ambedkar and Phule of empowering villages.

The ‘Gram Swaraj’ exercise, which will continue till May 5, will be aimed at fulfilling the dreams of these stalwarts, he said, asking the party’s representatives to fan out in villages to ensure that people there get benefits of government schemes, an official statement said.

The prime minister spelled out several programmes during the period with April 18 being observed as ‘Swachh Bharat’ festival.

This is also a part of social justice as the mindset that those engaged in sanitation work have a low status has to be changed, he said.

April 20, 24 and 28 will be observed as ‘Ujjwala Diwas’, ‘Panchayati Raj Diwas’ and ‘Gram Shakti Diwas’ respectively to highlight various government schemes, he said.

He said he will interact with BJP leaders on April 22 through a video conference.

April 30, May 2 and May 5 will be dedicated to highlighting various schemes aimed at benefiting farmers and the poor.

Modi said he will be in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, which is among the districts chosen by his government for development push, on April 14 and in Madhya Pradesh on April 24.

He said the better the conditions of villages, the stronger will be India and the country will be more quickly on the path to development if living standards of the rural masses improve.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.