Bhubaneswar: BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday slammed religious conversion and asked members of weaker sections, Dalits and tribals to change the government instead of their religions.
"I understand that people from BJP and RSS visit remote areas of Odisha and persuade adivasis and dalits to go for reconversion in order to change their living standards. I am telling you not to change religion, but governments both in the State and the Centre," Mayawati told a public meeting here.
Stating that about 50 per cent of Odisha`s population comprised tribals and dalits, Mayawati said there had been no development of poor people even 65 years after Independence. She also highlighted the plights of poor people among the upper caste communities.
Blaming the economic policies of both Congress led UPA government and previous BJP led NDA regime at the Centre, she said "while a huge amount of black money is stashed in foreign banks, neither Congress nor BJP had made any effort to bring it back."
"If the black money is brought back, most of the problems faced by the poor, Dalits and tribals would be over for all time to come. But, those in power don`t take such step," she said.
Holding poverty and unemployment responsible for the growth of left wing extremism, Mayawati said the Maoist menace would certainly come down if the government took steps to uplift the poor members of the society.
She said Odisha remained poor and backward for ages due to faulty policies of successive governments in the state and the Centre. "We will fulfil Odisha`s demand of a special category State status if voted to power in Centre," Mayawati said.
"We have reduced poverty in Uttar Pradesh and distributed unutilised government land to landless people. Same can be done in Odisha and elsewhere," she said.
Appealing to people to vote for BSP candidates in the ensuing twin polls, Mayawati said "we do not have alliance with anyone in the state. BSP has put candidates in all the 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly segments of Odisha."
On the thin attendance in her first public meeting here, Mayawati said she was happy that poor people attended the BSP rally. "We do not bring people by bus or train to show fake strength. I am happy that so many people attended the meeting despite scorching heat," she said.