Modi plays pro-Dalit card

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) at a function in Varanasi on Friday. He distributed devices to the differently abled at the event
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday his government’s aim was not only to make India the fastest growing economy but also to transform the lives of the poor wherein the youth would have employment and stand on their own feet. He said schemes such as Jan-Dhan Yojana, Mudra Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana were aimed at this.

He also broke his silence on the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University. “When there is news that a youth of my country, Rohith, was forced to commit suicide, what his family must have gone through. Mother India has lost a son. There will be reasons, there will be politics (surrounding it) but the fact remains that a mother has lost her son. I feel the pain very well,” a visibly emotional Modi said.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the convocation ceremony of the B R Ambedkar University in Lucknow, where a couple of students shouted slogans as he began his speech. The two students, who were donning blue stole, meant for Masters degree scholars, were evicted by police and detained.

Modi first arrived in Varanasi, his Parliamentary constituency, on Friday morning. After distributing devices to the differently-abled people and flagging off a train connecting Varanasi with Delhi, he left for Lucknow.

At the Lucknow airport, he was received by UP governor Ram Naik and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. This was Modi’s first visit to the state capital after becoming PM in May 2014.

This past week, two ministers in the Modi Cabinet — Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani — had come under intense attack from the Opposition parties over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula following his suspension from the varsity.

Taking a swipe at the opposition, he said: “It appears the whole world is trying to corner me… Their only aim is to make Modi deflect from his path and entangle him in controversies.”

During his tour of the state, Modi coined a new term divyang (divine organ) in place of viklang (handicapped) for the differently-abled. He said God had bestowed special powers to such persons rather than making them less-perfect.

The Mahamana Superfast Express, flagged off by Modi in the presence of minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, would run thrice a week.

At the Colvin Taluqdars’ College ground in Lucknow, Modi distributed e-rickshaws at a function organised by microfinance institution Bharatiya Micro Credit (BMC). Banking payment solutions provider India Transact Services has tied up with BMC for the mobile e-payment application for e-rickshaw.

Modi said his government would boost the country’s economic pace to tackle poverty and providing ample job opportunities to the youth. “The world is facing the economic slowdown and even the advanced nations are not untouched. During such headwinds, India stands as the country which continues to progress at a fast pace,” he said while referring to the testimonies of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and global rating agencies.

The PM paid homage to Ambedkar at the Ambedkar Mahasabha in Lucknow before flying back to Delhi in the evening.

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