New Delhi, Apr 14: Congress on Tuesday accused BJP of trying to "usurp" the legacy of BR Ambedkar for "vote-bank politics" even as the Government came under attack on Dalit issues at a function held under the auspices of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and a Dalit outfit here.
NCSC Chairman P L Punia, who is a Congress MP, charged that the NDA government has brought down the budget of a number of schemes meant for Dalits by half in the Union Budget "as if it has some enmity (towards these communities).
He lauded the previous UPA government for launching a number of schemes to benefit Dalits. The function organized jointly by NCSC and Bhagwan Valmiki foundation was attended mostly by leaders of Congress including Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh and PC Chacko.
"Unfortunately today, the status of Baba Saheb has been reduced to being merely a Dalit icon. The anti-reformist of that era preferentially only quote the name of this mass leader as a branding for their individual political parties, totally devoid of his ideology.
"No political party especially the BJP can usurp the ideologies of this foremost social reformer merely to increase their Dalit vote bank. Baba Saheb was and will always remain revered and remembered as a Congressman and his visions of social inclusion will always remain the motto of the Indian National Congress," Chacko said.
Faced with the task of reviving its fortunes since the setback in Lok Sabha poll last year, Congress is making a sbid to counter the portrayal of Ambedkar as "anti-Congress".
Congress has also come out with plans to commemorate Ambedkar's 125h anniversary at a time when the NDA government, BJP and RSS have also decided to highlight the contribution of Ambedkar.
Congress's move came amidst concerns voiced in the party that BJP was trying to "appropriate" the legacies of icons who were either ignored or perceived to have been ignored by the Congress.
Holding the BJP and RSS are in a "race" to celebrate the birth anniversary of Ambedkar, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Kharge said the two outfits should not teach Congress as to what it did for Ambedkar.
Observing that BJP and RSS are remembering Ambedkar after a long time, he asked, "Whether the RSS, which does not hoist the national tricolour atop its office, will put up photos of Ambedkar in their offices and worship his photo.
"BJP, which never put up Ambedkar's photo in its office are also moving with his posters," he said.