BJP leader sacked over sexist slur on Mayawati
Opposition lawmakers shouted slogans and disrupted parliament repeatedly on Wednesday, accusing the government of doing little to protect Dalits after four members of the community were thrashed for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat.
Last week’s beatings by selfstyled cow protectors have sparked the most serious protests by Dalits in Gujarat, posing a political challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s party ahead of a string of elections in states where the community accounts for a substantial size of votes.
The attack’s fallout continued to reverberate in Gujarat, where a strike called by Dalit groups on Wednesday evoked overwhelming response in Saurashtra and north Gujarat.
In Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi led the opposition charge, accusing the government of “snatching the rights” of Dalits, many of who earn a livelihood by skinning animals that die naturally.
“The recent shocking incident in Gujarat… is just one example of the social terror the government condones,” Gandhi said, addressing party lawmakers.
But home minister Rajnath Singh sought to douse the political fire, calling the July 11 Dalit beatings as “unfortunate” and a “social evil”. “The prime minister was sad and hurt (about the Gujarat incident),” Singh told Members of the Dalit community lead a protest march in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Wednesday. Parliament. Opposition parties, however, competed to take credit for championing the cause of the Dalit, who account for 32% and 21% of the population in politically crucial states as Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has been trying to reach out to the community as part of its efforts to expand its support base beyond upper caste voters.
Violence against Dalits is not unusual in many parts of India, and the Gujarat incident has given opposition parties a potent weapon to attack the BJP-led central government, which has been struggling to tackle weeks of violent street protests in Kashmir.
The BJP’s vice-president in UP was removed from all party posts and expelled for six years on Wednesday for comparing Dalit leader and four-time CM Mayawati to a prostitute, a remark that triggered political outrage and a demand for his arrest. Daya Shankar Singh, an upper-caste Thakur, called the BSP chief a “vaishya” for allegedly selling party tickets to aspiring candidates for next year’s state polls. For her part, Mayawati demanded Singh’s arrest. “Otherwise, if in response to this, people get violent, it will not be on my conscience,” she said in the Rajya Sabha.
Seven people were arrested for the murder of a 16-year-old Dalit boy, allegedly by the family of a girl from his neighbourhood.
The police said the boy had been in a relationship with the 17-year-old girl, but her family did not approve. The girl’s brothers had earlier threatened the boy and his family a few times, which they had reported to the police.
The seven people arrested are the girl’s father Rajendra Naik, 50; mother Malti Naik, 43; brothers Sagar Naik, 25, and Sajesh Naik, 21; Durgesh Patil, 22, Asish Thakur, 23; and Sameer Shaikh, 23.