LUCKNOW: Savitribai Phule, BJP MP from Bahraich parliamentary constituency of Uttar Pradesh, resigned from the primary membership of the saffron party on Thursday accusing the saffron party of “trying to divide society” on caste lines to win upcoming elections.
The MP know for her vitriolic attack on BJP leadership from time to time on a plethora of issues, finally snapped off all ties with the party on Thursday alleging it was trying to "create divisions" in the society. "I am a social worker and work for Dalits for whom BJP is not doing anything," Savitri Bai Phule, who represents Bahraich in the lower house of Parliament.
Her decision to resign from the party has come to a couple of days after she took affront of UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s reported statement on Lord Hanuman during a poll rally in Rajasthan. Phule had reacted to it by saying if Lord Hanuman was a ‘Dalit’ as claimed by UP CM Yogi Adityanath, then Dalits should be appointed as pujaris in the all the Hanuman temples across the country.
“Hanuman always stood by Lord Ram but then why did Ram make him a monkey with a tail and blackened face?” Phule had also claimed that Lord Hanuman was a slave of ‘Manuwadi’ people. On the Ram temple issue, the MP had said that the BJP and right-wing organisations were raking up the issue now to divert people’s attention from the failures of the government with 2019 polls round the corner.
Opposing the temple demand vehemently, Phule said the country did not need a temple.
Rather the government should focus on issues like unemployment and problems plaguing Dalits and backwards of the country. “The temple will benefit Brahmins, who are only 3 per cent. The money offered in temples are used by them for their gains and make our community (Dalit) their slave,” she said. Phule’s decision to quit BJP is the precipitation of a gradual discontent she had been nursing against the party for quite some time.
Her first big rally against her own government was organised in Luckow on 1 April when she had launched a broadside on the BJP’s stand on Dalit issues with special reference to Supreme Court’s observation on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In the rally, just a day ahead of Bharat Bandh called by Dalits to protest against Supreme Court’s observation, Phule had condemned BJP for not doing enough for the emancipation of Dalits.
During the controversy over Jinnah’s portrait on AMU campus, Phule took a line contrary to her party and called Jinnah a ‘Mahapurush’ who fought for country’s independence. Moreover, she had gone openly critical of the BJP's 'dinner-with-Dalits' outreach. Phule runs an organisation, Namo Buddhay Jan Seva Samiti, and lives in Bahraich. Her family was associated with BAMCEF, a non-political organisation spearheaded by BSP founder Kanshi Ram. In her early days, Phule joined the BSP but was suspended by Mayawati in 2000 over some local controversy which she never discusses.
In 2001, she contested and won the zila panchayat polls. She joined the BJP and later contested the assembly elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012, winning only the last one from Balha constituency in Bahraich. In 2014, she was asked by the party to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bahraich,
a reserved constituency. She won the seat by almost one lakh votes. However, reacting to her diatribe against the party all this long and her decision to quit finally, BJP leaders question Phule’s “sudden activism”, and accuse her of using the rallies to put pressure on the party to repeat her ticket in 2019 even while her performance as MP has not been very good.
“People have a lot of complaints against her. She is doing all this just to put pressure on the party,” said a UP cabinet minister. Highly placed party sources also claimed that Phule has been at loggerheads with the local BJP unit in Bahraich since 2014. She allegedly wanted Balha bypoll ticket for one of her relatives in 2014, but the party turned down her request.