New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi reached out to the Dalits on Tuesday and urged for more representation for the community in the Congress party. He attacked Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, saying she was not allowing other Dalit leaders to rise.
The Congress vice-president said the Dalit community "needs the escape velocity of Jupiter" to achieve success.
He dwelt on astronomy to explain the phenomenon of escape velocity -- or the speed that an object needs to be travelling to break free of a planet or moon's gravity.
Addressing a function on National Awareness Camp for Scheduled Castes Empowerment at Vigyan Bhavan, Rahul Gandhi said BR Ambedkar was the first Dalit to attain escape velocity and after him Kanshi Ram channelised "the energy that was created due to reservation" and helped many Dalits attain escape velocity.
But he said Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, had captured the Dalit leadership and was not allowing others to rise.
The Congress leader said if the movement for escape velocity has to be taken forward it needs the participation of lakhs of Dalit leaders. He said he has asked prominent Dalit leaders in the Congress to systematically develop leadership at "panchayat, MLA, MP and policy level".
At another function at Talkatora Stadium to mark Dalit Adhikar Diwas (Dalit rights' day), Mr Gandhi described the Dalits as the "reed ki haddi" or spine of the Congress party.
To loud cheers of "Rahul Gandhi zindabad", "Rahul Gandhi is the messiah of the downtrodden" and the "India's rising star", he said the Congress party would do everything to empower the Dalits.
"Congress is the party for the poor, our opposition does not understand the problems of the poor. They don't go to their homes and hold their hands or discuss their problems. And then they speak of India shining. And lose the polls. They lost it in 2004, in 2009 and will lose again in 2014," he said.