Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria Friday launched a scathing attack on Mayawati calling her a “thekedar’ (contractor) of Dalit voters” who has failed to do anything for the Dalits. This comes a day after the BSP chief said that had she been in power in Uttar Pradesh, she would have sent Katheria to jail for his alleged provocative speech in Agra after a VHP leader’s murder.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Katheria said Dalit VHP leader Arun Mahaur was killed in broad daylight in Agra because he was a “gaubhakt”(cow-worshipper) and “poor”. He said Satendra Jatav, another Dalit, was murdered on February 12, but Mayawati remained silent on both killings.
“She talks about sending me to jail but not about the killings of Dalits. People have become aware of the way in which Mayawati has become ‘thekedar’ (contractor) of Dalits for selling their votes. The Dalits in UP have become aware,” Katheria said.
“Only future can tell, who will send whom to jail,” said Katheria, who is seen by many as BJP’s most prominent Dalit leader in state.
He also targeted Akhilesh Yadav government alleging it of discrimination when it comes to awarding compensation for murders. “While in one case, Rs 50 lakh was given as compensation, no such money was given to Satendra Jatav’s family, and discrimination was done in Arun Mahaur’s case,” he alleged.
Asked what the Centre was doing for security of Dalits, Katheria said, “We have written in this regard to the Union Home Ministry and it was taking necessary action. A letter has also been written to (Chief Minister) Akhilesh Yadav.”
“The situation in the state is very bad. Incidents of murder, loot, rapes are on the rise. It has raised a question mark on UP government…people of the state want a change,” he added.
Katheria, who is Minister of State for HRD and represents Agra Lok Sabha constituency, had allegedly made a controversial speech at a condolence meeting for Mahaur, who was killed by some youths from another community last week. “It is unfortunate that no one speaks on the murder and instead focused on the words. Some people had spoken wrong on that stage. I have accepted that,” he said.
Samajwadi Party has demanded that Katheria be sacked, alleging that his remarks were “anti-national”, while Congress alleged it showed that BJP and RSS resorted to divisive agenda, especially ahead of elections.