Savitri Ki Saugandh

article

She does not care much if she wins or loses polls, but she must fight for her Dalits, which she has been doing since she was in Class VIII

She is a rebel with a cause since her childhood. At the age of 6 years, she was forced to get married. But she refused to go with her husband and took to ‘sanyas’. She joined Janseva Ashram in Behraich and took up social work for the uplift of Bahujan Samaj.

Born on June 1 1981, Savitri Bai Phule, the saffron-clad firebrand BJP MP from Behraich in Uttar Pradesh, shot into the limelight in May 2018, when she raised a banner of revolt against her own party and government on issues related to Dalits.

For her Bahujan Samaj, she did not mind taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave her the Lok Sabha ticket. She held a massive rally on April 1 in Lucknow and took a jibe at the Modi government for its stand on the Dalit issues, particularly on the Supreme Court ruling on the dilution of the SC/ST Act. The BJP MP is particularly annoyed with the Sangh Parivar for questioning the validity of reservations and suggesting a relook at the Constitution.

“I will keep fighting any party or government to protect Dr Ambedkar’s Constitution and the rights of Dalits in the country,” she warns.

Child Activist

The 37-year-old BJP MP was initially associated with late Kanshi Ram’s BAMCEF. “She was often seen working as a labourer and doing odd jobs to raise funds to continue with her education and the welfare of Dalit women in

rural Behraich,” claims Rahul Yadav, a local journalist. Brilliant in her studies, Savitri is a post-graduate in Political Science. She recalls an early incident from her student life when her scholarship for Rs 480 was pocketed by upper caste principal and teachers in Class VIII. When she fought it out, she was rusticated from the school. It was then that she had decided to fight for the rights of Dalits at any cost.

Her name was rechristened from Savitri Devi to Savitri Bai Phule, after the 19th century social reformer, by her social and political mentor AN Kanojia, a prominent Dalit activist, who adopted her at the age of 13. Once Kanojia told her father that if Mayawati can become the Chief Minister, why not Savitri?

Impressed by her oratorical skills, knowledge about the Constitution, passion and indomitable spirit to fight for the Dalit cause, she was picked up by Mayawati in 1995 when she was only 14. During a social unrest in Behraich in December 1995, she sustained minor bullet injuries and was lodged at Lucknow jail. On her release from jail, she told her father that she would pursue her career in politics and social work.

Eldest among five siblings, she called off her child marriage and got her husband to marry her younger sister to carry on her mission. A rebel since childhood, Savitri was suspended by Mayawati when she refused to follow her orders on some local issue.

BJP Stint

In 2001, she won the Zila Panchayat elections and joined the BJP. She unsuccessfully contested 2002 and 2007 polls but from the Balha reserved assembly seat in 2012 on a BJP ticket.

During this period she continued to be Zila Panchayat member to establish herself as another firebrand Dalit woman leader.

The saffron-clad Sadhvi soon emerged as an influential Dalit leader within the BJP. She was invited by then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for campaigning in Surat, Rajkot and Junagarh during 2012 Gujarat polls. She sought to contest 2014 Lok Sabha polls when she met Modi after BJP won assembly elections in Gujarat.

Modi offered her seat in Gujarat but she turned down the offer and insisted on contesting from Behraich, her birthplace. It was Modi who helped her get the ticket. She won her seat for the Lok Sabha from Behraich in 2014. But why then did she raise the banner of revolt against Modi?

“My fight is not against any individual, party or government but against all those who deprive Bahujan Samaj their rights bestowed by the Constitution. Whether I remain in the BJP or not, my fight to protect the rights of my people will continue,” she stresses.

Critics Say

BJP state leaders, however, called her rebellious act as over-confidence and ambition. “She wanted the ticket for her relative from the Balha Assembly seat. The party had rejected her request. Since then she has been using Dalit issues to mount pressure on the party,” said a party General Secretary.

The senior BJP leader said that she may be denied the party ticket to contest in 2019 Lok Sabha polls as her performance as an MP in her parliamentary constituency is also not up to mark.

“We have received many complaints from the people and party cadre from Behraich district unit against her,” he said.

Savitri runs an organisation called Namo Buddhay ja Seva Samiti and carries out all her rebellious activities under its barrier. She plans to tour all over the country to unite Dalits and make them aware of their rights to fight another round in October by holding a rally in Delhi, right under the nose of her own government.

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