New Delhi: The Delhi government’s plan to showcase the life of one of India’s founding fathers, Dr BR Ambedkar, in a play is not political but purely patriotic, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday said.
Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s art and culture and tourism minister, said the free show will begin on January 5, will be staged about 50 times throughout next month, and will feature renowned artistes, adding that the finer details of the project were still being worked out by the department.
The announcement about the Delhi government organising a play on the Dalit icon and the architect of the Indian Constitution at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was made by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday.
When asked about the timing of the programme in Delhi in the run-up to the assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, which have a Dalit population of 32% and 22% respectively, Sisodia said the move should not be seen through a political prism.
The AAP is the principal opposition in the Punjab assembly.
“This (the play) is not politics. It is not a political stunt. This is purely deshbhakti (patriotism). We had announced this plan during the beginning of this year itself, in my budget speech to be precise, because we are celebrating 75 years of Independence. It is part of the larger celebrations that are being held in Delhi under that itself,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s finance minister, told HT in an interview.
“In fact, let me remind you that the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi is probably the only city-state which has been running so many welfare schemes for Dalits ever since it came to power seven years ago. What the Dalits of this country have faced or are still facing for several decades — the discrimination has still not been compensated for. But, this play that I am talking about is not merely to showcase Babasaheb as a Dalit leader. Our intention is to showcase him as the architect of modern India. Everyone should take home some inspiration after watching the play,” Sisodia said.
Talking about poll promises made by Kejriwal in Punjab — including free school education and coaching for higher studies to children from the scheduled caste community if his party comes to power — the deputy CM said the AAP will simply replicate the “Delhi model” in Punjab.
“The Delhi government is already running a host of schemes for the children and students from the SC community. We have just promised the same in Punjab too. What is wrong with that? Don’t the people of Punjab deserve the same benefits which the people in Delhi are enjoying? In Delhi, the AAP government is running the Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana to extend quality education to the underprivileged,” Sisodia said.
“Under this scheme, meritorious students belonging to SC/ST/OBC and EWS categories receive free coaching from private institutes for competitive exams such as JEE, NEET, CLAT, Civil Services, Banking, Railways, SSC, among others. If a kid from a family earning less than ₹8 lakh per annum is talented, they no longer have to face the hurdles of poverty. We also provide a stipend of ₹2,500 to the beneficiary students so that they do not face problems in their commute,” he added.