Wooing voters with Buddha, Maurya king
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
LUCKNOW, April 29. - It is not for love of Gautam Buddha but for the Dalit votes that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mr Rajnath Singh has announced that a grand statute of Buddha would be constructed at Sarnath.
His logic for the erection of the statute was rather twisted. He was identifying Buddha with the Dalits.
Mr Singh believes that the destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban had hurt the feelings of Dalits. "It is because of this that the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to construct a statute which will be a feet taller than the one destroyed," the chief minister said.
Mr Singh was speaking at Bareilly's Manohar Bushan Inter College which was celebrating the 2,346th birthday of Chandragupta Maurya earlier this week.
The Dalai Lama would be invited for laying the foundation stone of the statue and a request would also be made to the Prime Minister to join the function, Mr Singh said.
"Lord Buddha has always been a 'divine being' for the Dalits, and the exploited masses," the chief minister said at the college.
The manner in which the chief minister also recalled King Chandragupta Maurya of the Magadh empire was clearly with the voter bank in mind.
Though since his victory at Haidergarh, Mr Singh has been declaring that he did not believe in caste-based politics, he talked of Chandragupta Maurya to keep the backward caste voters in good humour.
Mr Singh said Chandragupta Maurya had campaigned hard for the unity of the country.
"He was a king who had his ears to the ground and always worked for the benefit of the poor, Dalits and those exploited," he said.
The chief minister said that the next government was going to be "that of the backward castes" and they would given full representation in it.
Mr Singh also announced that a Chandragupta Maurya Research Institute would be set up in the state capital. He didn't make clear what type of institute it was His "guest lecture" went all out to woo the backward castes.
Ironically, he assailed the political parties which were exploiting the feelings of the "bahujan" (Dalits) for votes.
Mr Singh was obviously targeting the Bahujan Samaj Party.
The government, he said would complete all the unfinished projects for "bahujans" undertaken by previous governments.