Members of Dalit community today "cleansed" B R Ambedkar's statue here 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 Ambedkar's 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 mayor's right. This angered our members," Solanki said.
"The statue and the atmosphere in the GEB circle area was polluted after the arrival of Gandhi and other BJP leaders. Therefore, we cleansed Ambedkar's statue with milk and water after it was garlanded by the BJP leaders," he added.
Before Gandhi's arrival, Jivraj Chauhan, general secretary of SC/ST cell of BJP's state unit, was also gheraoed by the Dalit members, who shouted slogans against him, forcing him to leave the venue.