On Saturday, Members of Dalit community "cleansed" B R Ambedkar's statue in Vadodara soon after Union minister Maneka Gandhi and some BJP leaders paid floral tributes on his 127th birth anniversary, a Dalit leader said, claiming that their presence had "polluted" the atmosphere. Thakor Solanki, general secretary of SC/ST the Employees Union of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, claimed that they had gathered at the venue to pay their tributes before the BJP leaders.
The members of the Dalit community raised slogans at the GEB Circle area on Race Course against other party leaders and Gandhi, the Women and Child Development minister who is in the city to attend a number of events. She arrived at Ambedkars statue along with BJP MP Ranjanben Bhatt, city mayor Bharat Dangar, BJP MLA Yogesh Patel and others.
The members of the Dalit community, led by Solanki, started raising slogans against them. An argument broke out between them and the police personnel, but no untoward incident took place. After Gandhi and other leaders garlanded the statue around 9 am and left the venue, the members of the community washed it with milk and water, saying the BJP leaders presence had "polluted" the atmosphere.
"We told the police that since we had gathered there much before the BJP leaders came, it was our right to pay tributes first. However, police prevented us from garlanding the statue stating that as per the protocol, it was the mayors right. This angered our members," Solanki said. Before Gandhis arrival, Jivraj Chauhan, general secretary of SC/ST cell of BJPs state unit, was also gheraoed by the Dalit members, who shouted slogans against him, forcing him to leave the venue.