Congress president Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the Centre on Thursday over the Dalit issue. Cornering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre over the issue, Gandhi said that both the PM and his government have no space in their hearts for Dalits.

“If Modi ji had space for Dalits in his heart then the policies for Dalits would have been different,” the 48-year-old Congress chief said.

“When he was CM he wrote in his book ‘Daliton ko safai karne se anand milta hai’ (Dalits feel happy when they do cleaning work),” the 48-year-old Gandhi alleged.

Speaking at a protest rally by Dalits and tribals in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, the Congress chief said the re-employment a judge who diluted an act that sought to deter atrocities against the marginalised proves the PM’s mindset.

He was referring to the appointment of Justice AK Goel as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairman.

In his speech, Gandhi said that Dalits were being “beaten up and suppressed” whenever and wherever the BJP was in government.

“We don’t want an India where Dalits are suppressed. We want an India where everyone grows. His (Modi’s) thinking is anti-Dalit… The entire country will stand up against him, the BJP and the RSS,” said Gandhi.

Justice Goyal, who Gandhi referred to, was one of the two judges who on 20 March ruled that anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” can be allowed before registration of a case under the act, citing instances of its abuse for political or personal reasons.

The ruling angered Dalits. On 6 July, Justice Goel retired from the Supreme Court. On the same day, he was appointed the NGT chairman.

On Monday, the Lok Sabha passed an amendment to the 1989 act overturning the Supreme Court ruling and restoring the provision for immediate arrest of an accused.

(With inputs from agencies.)