New Delhi, Julty 27: BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party on Friday turned the heat on the Modi government saying that its support to the saffron party is issue-based as it sought a law to restore the stringent measures of the Act on atrocities against Dalits and removal of NGT Chairman AK Goel by August 9.
The LJP’s Parliamentary Party chairman Chirag Paswan today demanded the Centre to bring an ordinance about SC/ST Act and warned that the Dalit protests called on August 9 could be more aggressive than those of April 2.
“We wanted centre to bring an ordinance about SC/ST Act. But it couldn’t be done now so we’ve asked centre to reintroduce it as a bill in the Parliament on Aug 7 & restore the previous law, as Dalit protests on Aug 9 could be more aggressive than April 2 protests,” he said.
Earlier today, Chirag said that patience of many within the LJP is running thin as circumstances raising concerns of the Dalits and tribals have emerged of late.
Protecting interests of these communities was at the root of the LJP’s tie up with the BJP in 2014, he told a press conference here.
His party has been demanding for over four months now an ordinance to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act but the government has not done so.
He, however, stayed away from issuing any direct threat to the BJP and said the LJP has faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his government had done a lot for Dalits.
“I have complete faith in the government and the utmost faith in our Prime Minister. He says that from ‘if but to comma full stop’, nothing will be changed in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It increases our faith in him,” he said.
“We will cross the bridge when it comes,” he said when asked if his party would consider walking out of the BJP-led NDA if its demands are not met by the August 9 deadline.
Various Dalit and tribal groups have called for a ‘Bharat bandh’ on August 10 to press their demands, including restoration of the Act. They have said a Supreme Court order in March weakened the law.
Chirag Paswan said incidents of atrocities against the community have risen following the verdict and FIRs were not being registered by police.
Goel was one of the two top court judges who delivered the verdict and he was appointed the National Green Tribunal chairperson earlier this month immediately after his retirement from the Supreme Court.
The LJP has criticised his appointment with Chirag Paswan writing to Modi seeking his removal, saying it has sent a wrong message. Dalits believe that he has been rewarded for his judgement, he said.
His father has also written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue.
Chirag Paswan expressed the hope that the prime minister will take appropriate decisions once he returns from his foreign visit later in the evening.
He said the opposition has been working to give an impression that the government was being “anti-Dalit” and the Modi dispensation should take strong measures to dispel it.
Blowing hot and cold, he said the LJP strongly remains a part of the government as it makes it easier for his party to carry out its Dalit agenda.
He noted that it was the Modi government which had made the Act more stringent by expanding its ambit.
Chirag Paswan said if the demands are not met, then the protests during ‘Bharat bandh’ could be much worse than what happened on April 2, when Dalit outfits had given a similar call. More than 10 persons had died during the protest.
He was joined by Ram Chandra Paswan, an LJP MP and the chief of the ‘Dalit Sena’, an outfit affiliated to the party. The Dalit Sena will be forced to join the protests on August 10 if the government does not take appropriate action, he said.
The LJP, which has six MPs in the Lok Sabha, draws its core support from the Dalits in Bihar and has often switched sides between rival alliances ahead of elections.
The party was in the UPA before it joined hands with the BJP in 2014.
The BJP has been facing the problem of dissenting allies in the NDA government over the past several months. Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulled out the NDA in March this year and moved no-confidence motion against the Modi government during the ongoing Monsoon Session, which was comfortably won by the BJP.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena has also been a bit of headache to the BJP as the former – an ally in Maharashtra – has been criticising PM Modi and party over the social and economic reforms brought by it. The Sena even refrained from voting in favour of the government in the no-trust vote after reports were rife about party chief Uddhav Thackeray promising support to BJP President Amit Shah.
(With PTI inputs)