On the 127th birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar, Prime Minister Modi invoked the Dalit icon multiple times in a speech in the Maoist-hit Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. Leading the crowd into chants of Jai Bhim as early as the fifth minute of his 58-minute speech, PM Modi said,
“Bastar aur Bijapur ke aasman mein Babasaheb ke naam ki goonj humein, aap sabhi ko dhanya kar rahi hai. Unke goonj mein jo aasha judi hai, jo akanksha judi hai, main pranam karta hoon (The chant of Babasaheb’s name in Bastar and Bijapur has made me and all of you blessed. I bow to the hope and aspiration that’s associated with that chant).”
The prime minister was in Bijapur to inaugurate a health and wellness centre at the primary level, the first of 1.5 lakh such proposed centres at the village level across the country under the Ayushmaan Bharat scheme. PM Modi said the Central government had in the last four years worked for “garib, Dalit, soshit, pidit, vanchit, pichde, mahilaon, aur adivasi (poor, Scheduled Castes, downtrodden, opressed, deprived, backward, women and Scheduled Tribes).”
“We want the benefits of our schemes to reach the last person and that is why the Gram Suraj Abhiyan will be held from today to May 5. I have confidence that on Babasaheb Jayanti, the schemes that we have launched will create new frontiers of development,” he said.
Apart from the health and wellness centres that will offer free checkups for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension, these centres are to be equipped with teleconferencing technology so that mid-level medical professionals posted at these centres can consult with doctors at the district headquarters.
After inaugurating phase 1 of the Bastar Net programme, he also flagged off a train from the Bhanupratappur railway station in Kanker district via video conference. Keeping the focus on Ambedkar, Modi said, “Babasahab could have lived a life of great comfort. But he did not do this. After studying in a foreign land, he came back and he gave his life for the backward classes, Dalits and Adivasis. He wanted to give Dalits their rights, and the opportunity to live an equal life… Aapka saathi agar aaj desh ka pradhanmantri hai, to woh bhi Babasaheb ki den hai (If your friend is today the country’s PM, it’s thanks to Ambedkar).”
Appealing to Maoists, PM Modi referenced Ambedkar and said, “I want to tell the youth who have taken to the path of violence that Babasaheb has given us the Constitution, all the protection you want is in the Constitution. To worry about your rights is the responsibility of the government. You do not need to ruin your life. I want to say to their mothers and fathers, your daughters and sons have walked down this path. But ask who their head is. Not one of them is from your area. They have not been born on your soil. They have come from outside. They don’t fight. They live in the forests and hide while your children are out and die.Do you want to trust such people and ruin your children’s lives? The government is duty-bound to protect your interests. We have to go on the path of development.”