Congress president Rahul Gandhi will on Monday launch his party's nationwide 'Save the Constitution' campaign, aiming to highlight alleged attacks on the Constitution and Dalits under the Narendra Modi government.
Seen as the party's effort to reach out to the community ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the campaign launch is expected to be attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and other senior leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The campaign will continue till next year's April 14, the birth anniversary of Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
Congress's present and former Dalit lawmakers, those holding offices in zilla parishad, civic bodies and panchayat samitis, the party's office-bearers attached to its regional units will also attend the event, aimed at sensitising the attendees on the current state of affairs with regard to the community.
The attendees are expected to take the message forward, holding similar campaigns in states to reach out to the community members, sources said.
"The past three years have witnessed an unprecedented rise in atrocities against Dalits. Despite this, the SC/ST Act has been diluted. The Modi Govt is a clear and present danger to the Constitution of India. It is time for us to unite and #SaveTheConstitution," the Congress party said on Twitter.
In a statement, Nitin Raut, Congress's Scheduled Castes department chairman, said, "Ever since the RSS-supported BJP came to power at the centre, the Indian Constitution has been under severe attack, in one form or the other, thereby, denying the marginalised sections of society their constitutional rights."
He added : "The BJP-RSS combine is set to dismantle the social security available for SCs, STs and other weaker sections. The RSS ideology attacks the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. This would be countered by Congress Party."
Raut also hit out at the Centre over the Supreme Court's March 20 verdict allegedly diluting stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act. Raut charged the government with "intentional failure" to place before the apex court background and relevant facts relating to the act "holistically".
The action of the government is in itself an atrocity on the SCs and STs, he added.
Another party leader, wishing not to be named, said, "The community is being denied opportunities in spheres of education and jobs. The programme aims to highlight these issues nationwide." Dalits form roughly 17% of the country's electorate. There are 84 parliamentary seats reserved for candidates belonging to the scheduled castes.
The BJP had bagged nearly half of the seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, reflecting on its success in politically key states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The leader noted that only three-four of those seats were won by the Congress then.