Anti-national Rohith to Mother India son Rohith: why the shift

Paswan was among the few Dalit leaders who expressed their anguish against the BJP’s official stand that Rohith was “indulging in anti-national activities and fundamentalism” on the campus.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: January 23, 2016 7:29 am
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Saturday that he “felt the pain” of a mother’s loss and the HRD Ministry’s order of a judicial probe into Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s suicide betray a growing unease in the party and the government over what many within call a “political misreading” of the incident.

Early on, at least four Dalit MPs of the BJP had disagreed with their party line and told The Indian Express that what was needed was a probe and an intervention by the Prime Minister himself. Their voices went largely unheard as the political firestorm spread. Sources said that over the last few days many leaders communicated to the government that its response to the suicide was being read by the “anguished” Dalit community as being anti-Dalit. This, they warned, could be politically damaging given elections in four states scheduled to be held later this year and the real battleground, Uttar Pradesh, next year.

WATCH VIDEO: Dalit Student Suicide Takes A Political Turn

Moreover, this comes, they said, just months after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark in the Bihar campaign on the need for a rethink on quotas, a remark that many in the party claim hurt the BJP and prompted a series of clarifications. Incidentally, after these remarks, Modi had suggested that the Nitish-Lalu combine was plotting to steal away quotas meant for backward castes and give it to Muslims.

READ | Probe will suggest ways to fight bias too: HRD

“Clearly, the interpretation given by the party to the (suicide) incident was wrong,” said a senior Union Minister. A senior BJP MP pointed out that if the party — and the government — does not promptly do damage control, Dalit MPs may have to come out in public. Of 84 Dalit MPs, BJP has 39.

Some Dalit leaders in the party also took strong exception to BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao’s remark that the “context of the clash between student groups was Rohith’s stand in support of terrorism, including against the hanging of Yakub Memon.” Rao even claimed — inaccurately — that Rohith’s family does not belong to the Dalit community. BJP’s ally LJP also demanded an independent inquiry.

Rao, when contacted today, declined to comment.

ALSO READ | Mother India lost a son…I feel the pain: PM Modi

This shift in its public posture was visible on Wednesday itself when BJP spokespersons avoided any “negative” reference to Rohith but continued to allege that the campaign against the BJP on the subject was part of a “conspiracy” to damage the party ahead of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections scheduled for next month.

On Wednesday, the matter came up for an informal discussion in the Cabinet and the Prime Minister asked three Ministers to address a press conference. The ministers, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Seetharaman and Thawar Chand Gehlot, did not answer any questions on the BJP’s reaction or its Dalit MPs’ criticism. Irani said that the suicide of the young research scholar was not a “caste” battle and alleged that the protests were “misrepresented” with “malicious intent” as a “Dalit vs non-Dalit confrontation” for political gain.

However, after Modi’s remarks today, the tone changed. Said BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh: “What the Prime Minister said is the talk of a statesman and he spoke on humanitarian grounds. It also reflects on the political parties who try to politicise the death without getting know reasons.”

Tweeted Sanjay Paswan, a former Union Minister and a Dalit leader. “Thanks Naren bhai for breaking silence on Rohith episode and accepting mishandling by the authorities concerned at all level…yes we have hope.”

Paswan was among the few Dalit leaders who expressed their anguish against the BJP’s official stand that Rohith was “indulging in anti-national activities and fundamentalism” on the campus. Speaking to The Indian Express on Tuesday night, Paswan, party MPs Sunil Baliram Gaikwad (Latur), Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi (Bijapur, Karnataka) and Ashok Kumar Dohrey (Etawah) disapproved calling Rohith’s protests “änti-national.” Said Dohrey today: “I thank our Prime Minister for his intervention into the issue. His thoughts are in line with Ambedkar’s ideas.”

Meanwhile, the BJP today justified the NDA government’s move to remove the minority tag from Aligarh Muslim University. Party spokesperson M J Akbar said: “We should view this issue from the angle of Constitution and not through politics. For Government, there is only one book and that is the Constitution, as Prime Minister has said. All Central institutions have a character that is not for one or a particular section but it is secular…Now this matter is before court, Government cannot refuse its constitutional duties. It will take a position which earlier governments have taken.”

ABVP’s Uttar Pradesh organisation secretary Deepak Rishi asked the HRD Ministry to step in and stop AMU from “misusing” its minority institution status to not give quotas for SC/ST students. On January 18, Gehlot wrote to Irani thanking her for the ministry’s decision to scrap minority status for AMU and Jamia Milia Islamia University. He said this move was in line with the NDA’s Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas motto.

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  1. A
    Aap
    Jan 23, 2016 at 4:04 am
    No doubt that Dalits are being hared. He should not have killed himself rather followed Dr Ambedkar to stand against the tyrants
    Reply
    1. D
      David
      Jan 23, 2016 at 9:19 am
      He joined the Universisty using fake SC certificate. Then he joined political groups that were in support of terror elements. The political groups used him to spread venom inside the university. The height of the atrocity was to use the university campus to conduct sympathy meetings for Yakub Memon, convicted terrorist. Did he study or do any real research to be called as "scholar"? What were the research papers published by him? Probably at the end he realised how his life has been ruined by the Corrupt and anti-national political forces. Some the notes in the suicide note, where he criticised communist parties, have been deliberately suppressed by the corrupt media.
      Reply
      1. M
        Mfeku MoNa
        Jan 23, 2016 at 10:45 am
        Modi is Feku
        Reply
        1. H
          Hari
          Jan 23, 2016 at 9:03 am
          Pressute twisting the facts. Any Indian will agree that supporting terrorists like Yakub Memon, who was convicted by all the courts for Mumbai blasts that killed 147 civilians, is certainly anti national act. Will you support Yakub Memon if your dear ones were among those killed by Yakub Momon? The Corrupt anti-national media seems to be controlled by terror elements, and students like Rohith were clearly misguided by their political masters. Congress and Communist Parties should own responsibility for the suicide of Rohith, because they were the ones attempting to glorify and support terrorist Yakub Memon.
          Reply
          1. H
            Haradhan Mandal
            Jan 23, 2016 at 4:51 am
            'Technicalities' can not obfuscate anybody . It did not obviously obfuscate 'Mr' Rohith Vemula's mind and thinking. But it seems that you have agreed on my comment above.
            Reply
            1. H
              Haradhan Mandal
              Jan 23, 2016 at 3:42 am
              Till yesterday - when finally the 'pain ' came in after so many days - the 'Modi supporters' were busy ON THE INTERNET hurling abuses on the dead Dalit PHD Scholar of Life Science and the Dalit also in general. Many many uncharitable comments were made on him, on ASA and on the Dalit students and the Dalit of India. They were very 'liberal' also to give many unsolicited advice to the Dalit students. Only good thing from a very sad incident like this is that they stand FULLY exposed - politically and socially - who they are (caste wise, caste-agenda wise) - in spite of the fake talks and false propaa.
              Reply
              1. H
                Haradhan Mandal
                Jan 23, 2016 at 8:53 am
                What the Great Leader says is in the 'headlines' - what the rank and file say and think are in the comment sections. Bottom line: Don't go by the headlines, read the comments only.
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jay
                  Jan 23, 2016 at 9:45 am
                  There is no shift in the stand as being twisted by the pressute. The act of supporting terrorist like Yakub Memon is anti national. This is a fact. A mother has lost her son, this is also a fact. India lost a youngster, because the boy has been used by Corrupt and terror elements. He is used by the very same terror elements, even after his death, to spread communal violence.
                  Reply
                  1. I
                    Indian
                    Jan 23, 2016 at 4:11 am
                    Guys really its sad that a young life was lost. But donot give caste twist. The abvp guy who was attacked was also a bc and rohit was also a obc guy. Rohit's father himself told on tv that neighter he nor his wife nor kids are SC by birth. Watch his tv interview Please check his fathers interview on tv 9 telugu dated 22jan 2016 on you tube.
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      MyTake
                      Jan 23, 2016 at 6:31 am
                      What "helpful" message the writer is trying to "transmit" ?
                      Reply
                      1. P
                        PCKULKARNI
                        Jan 23, 2016 at 8:12 am
                        It is just foolish to compare Kota suicide with Rohit's suicide
                        Reply
                        1. P
                          PCKULKARNI
                          Jan 23, 2016 at 8:39 am
                          PM Modi is only trying to salvage a hopeless situation for BJP
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Sevaram
                            Jan 23, 2016 at 12:02 pm
                            Strongly secound your opinion!
                            Reply
                            1. U
                              US NRI
                              Jan 23, 2016 at 6:27 pm
                              Modi govt has not delivered on his promises now the problem is there are no capable ministers to provide India be great leadership not parties that have some character. I wish kejriwal could spread his wings but he is not diplomatic enough
                              Reply
                              1. U
                                US NRI
                                Jan 23, 2016 at 8:13 am
                                Why are Dalits are by politicians and media? About 20% of India's potion is Dalits and UP WB and bihar have the most potion of Dalits. Basically it's a larger vote bank of about 20 crore so by getting bjp in corner, rest of the parties such as SP, bsp in UP, TMC in WB and AAP in Punjab. Rajniti pla by politicians supported by media just like Dadri incidence pla big factor in zbJPs loss in bihar
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Vikrant
                                  Jan 23, 2016 at 9:05 am
                                  Any idea what Ambedkar was doing in 1942?
                                  Reply
                                  1. V
                                    Vikrant
                                    Jan 23, 2016 at 6:12 am
                                    Who has said that some sons of mother india are not anti nationals?
                                    Reply
                                    1. V
                                      Vikrant
                                      Jan 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm
                                      A converted jihadi is pained. I am sure your fathers were inspired by that arab paedolhile and made ur minor mom preg hence the result is person like you
                                      Reply
                                      1. V
                                        Vikrant
                                        Jan 23, 2016 at 11:06 am
                                        And you ae anti national that is also a fact a parasite no gooder feeding on patriots blood and money
                                        Reply
                                        1. V
                                          Vikrant
                                          Jan 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm
                                          Ask your italian mom for answers
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Vikrant
                                            Jan 23, 2016 at 12:07 pm
                                            Dont you understand suddenly jihadis missionaries converts and parasites feeding on tax payers money have lost a supporting govt in centre. Ofcourse he is going to hate Modi or for that matter anyone who takes pride on India, Indian culture heritage and work towards a strong India
                                            Reply
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