From Deekshabhoomi to Delhi: Congress march to woo Dalits
TNN | Nov 29, 2011, 05.32AM IST
NAGPUR: The Congress is planning a 1000 km march from Deekshabhoomi in
Nagpur to Rajghat in New Delhi next month. The long march cutting
across half the country could be an answer to the 'rathyatra' taken
out recently by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran LK Advani.
But unlike the issue of corruption that Advani tackled in his 'Jan
Chetana yatra' that culminated in Delhi earlier this month after
covering most of the country, the Congress march would aim at wooing
back Dalits and backward classes who form the core mainstay of the
"We are contemplating such a march. But it is too early to talk about
it. We are seeking consent of the state units for the support
required. Nothing is final as yet," said Maharashtra Pradesh Congress
Committee president Manikrao Thakre.
Party sources said that the state unit, which initiated the idea, had
planned to launch the 'padyatra' from December 6, the death
anniversary of Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar. For the right appeal,
Deekshabhoomi was chosen as the starting point. It was here that
Ambedkar created history and set a rolling for a social transformation
by leading a peaceful religious conversion of lakhs of downtrodden
people to Buddhism.
Passing through Madhya Pradesh and other Northern states, the march
would culminate at Rajghat, memorial for Father of the Nation, on
January 30, the death anniversary of the Mahatma.
The MPCC is keen on the padyatra to mark the ongoing 'Samajik Samata
year'. The move is also driven by the fact that large chunks of the
Dalits have deserted the Congress in recent years. Significantly, a
faction of the Republican Party of India led by Ramdas Athavale, which
was ally of the Congress and the NCP for decades, took a bold decision
to join the saffron combine of the Shiv Sena and the BJP in
The march would also be in time to neutralize the shift of the RPI and
to woo Dalits back for the municipal corporation elections in 10
cities of the state scheduled in February.
While the MPCC is rearing to go ahead with the padyatra, the problem
is with the dates. December 6 though an important date is too close to
the all-important December 8 poll for 196 municipal councils in the
"Most of the party workers will be busy as the civic body poll
campaign will be at its peak. But after a soft launch of the padyatra,
we can give it a momentum provided other state units make the
necessary arrangements for the march," said a party functionary.
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