Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lauded the contribution of reformers from Kerala like Dalit icon Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru and said merely achieving social justice was not enough but there should be social harmony between various sections.
"Mere equality will not do. We have to move a step forward. The final destination is harmony in society. For that we have to have a constantly awakened society.
"To achieve harmony, one has to move together with equality and love for all. We have to take the feeling of self upliftment and that of all coming together to achieve harmony.
Till then, harmony in society cannot be achieved," the Prime Minister said.
He was addressing the 152nd birth anniversary of Ayyankali at a function organised by the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) that represents the interests of the most oppressed Scheduled Caste community in Kerala. Sree Narayana Guru belonged to the backward Ezhava caste that has a dominant influence in Kerala politics.
BJP leaders from Kerala and Delhi were present on the dais. Modi's emphasis on the contribution of Kerala social reformers from Dalit and backward castes assumes significance as the BJP is trying to trying to make inroads in the state where its vote percentage went up significantly from 6.4 percent to 10.3 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls.
"While the efforts of social reformers like Ayyankali and Narayana Guru contributed in ending social discrimination in the pre-Independence era in the 19th century, we should be grateful to leaders like BR Ambedkar who ensured that a system is created to give everybody equal rights in society," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that the conference organised by Ayyankali in 1913 on the question of upliftment of Dalits was as much a turning point as Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March in 1930.
Modi emphasised that while the country may have achieved equality in terms of providing opportunities to Dalits, there was a need to achieve harmony.
"If we are stuck with only equality, it will not help. For harmony, we will have to make extra efforts," he said.