The war of words between the Congress and the BJP over the recent suicide of a Hyderabad university student escalated Sunday, with the opposition party slamming the BJP, especially External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, for claiming that Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit.
“They snatched his life. Now they want to steal his identity. Rohith and his struggle live on in our hearts,” said Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. In a counter-attack, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu accused Congress of doing ‘tamasha’ politics over Rohith’s suicide.
“Rohith’s is not the first incident (suicide)…10 (such suicides) incidents have happened during Congress regime. Nobody had the time. No Sonia, no Rahul and no Digvijaya Singh. Nobody came to HCU. Nobody consoled, nor condoled. Suddenly now they are doing drama,” he said.
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The BJP had earlier termed Rahul’s visit to Hyderabad “politics of vulturisation” and accused him of using the students as a “tool” in his campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Sunday, Congress upped the ante by fielding its deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma to target the PM over the issue. Citing Swaraj’s remarks on Rohith, Sharma said: “Her statement makes it clear that what PM Modi had said in Lucknow was fake compassion and that he was only shedding crocodile tears.”
Sharma also hit out at Modi for not referring to the issue in his radio address. “Despite such a shocking incident… the Prime Minister did not share his views… he did not outline what his government is doing to address the demands of the students… It was the duty of the PM to take action against two of his ministers and provide relief to the students… Modi, BJP and the RSS do not believe in accountability…The PM should tell the nation why he is unable to act against the two ministers…” he said.
The BJP accused the Congress of creating a negative atmosphere in the country. “Where on the one hand world leaders are lauding the PM’s leadership and India’s growth story, Congress leaders are playing politics of lies and deceit for their petty, selfish gains,” said BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma.
The BJP was also quick to counter the attack on the RSS. “RSS means ‘Ready for Selfless Service’…RSS is the most upright and patriotic organisation in the country,” said Naidu, in Hyderabad ahead of the civic polls.