Amit Shah cancels visit to Agra for Buddhist monk Dhamma Viriyo's rally, amid protests by Dalits
The BJP president was supposed to take part in the Dhamma Chetna Yatra – launched to woo the community ahead of the UP Assembly elections – on July 31.
Bharatiya Janata Paty President Amit Shah has cancelled a visit to Agra scheduled for July 31, amid protests by the Dalit community. Shah was to take part in Buddhist monk and former MP Dhamma Viriyo's rally in the city, The Indian Express reported.
Viriyo has been heading the Dhamma Chetna Yatra in Dalit-OBC regions in Uttar Pradesh to garner support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of the 2017 state Assembly elections. According to BJP officials, Shah cancelled his visit because of opposition from Dalits and Bahujan Samaj Party workers to the party's involvement with the yatra.
However, state BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said Shah's cancellation was a result of a change in venue for the event, which was moved from the large Kothi Meena Bazar ground to an indoor auditorium at Saraswati Shishu Mandir because of rain. But party officials maintained that Shah feared clashes at the rally between Dalits and BJP workers and protesters turning up with black flags.
The Dhamma Chetna Yatra began on April 24. It was flagged off by Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh at Sarnath, Varanasi. When the rally reached Aligarh on July 24, Buddhist monks asked local BJP leaders to leave after Dalits, who had gathered at the venue to welcome the yatra, protested against their presence.