On the day the BJP said the suicide of Rohith Vemula had “nothing to do with Dalit rights or issues” and “the context of the clash between student groups was Rohith’s stand in support of terrorism, including that against the hanging of Yakub Memon”, four of its Dalit leaders, three of them MPs, disagreed with the party stand and said the Prime Minister must intervene in the matter.
BJP national executive committee member and former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan took to Twitter to issue a warning: “the stake holders of power politics must take serious note of rohit vemula episode or be ready to face wrath, revenge, revolt, reactions”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Paswan expressed displeasure over his own party’s reaction to the incident. “It is damaging. We are doing politics for humanity and society. The reactions should be sensitive, should understand the anguish and anger of the Dalit community.”
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He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make a statement to reassure Dalits of his government’s commitment to their well-being. “There should be a CBI probe into the Hyderabad incident. It should be investigated meticulously and sincerely,” he said.
Sunil Baliram Gaikwad, BJP MP from Latur, said: “Just because he (rohith) had joined the protests against the hanging of Yakub Memon, you cannot brand him anti-national. This is a democratic country and it is a citizen’s fundamental right to express his views on issues.”
Ashok Kumar Doharey, BJP MP from Etawah, said “what happened to Rohith was injustice” and “condemnable”. He said he was counting on his party and the Prime Minister. “Our Prime Minister wants to take along everyone. He will take it seriously and will ensure that justice is done to him,” Doharey said.
Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, BJP MP from Bijapur, said: “What happened was very bad. And giving it an anti-national colour is also bad. The government should ensure that action is taken against authorities who harassed him. The Prime Minister should intervene.”
Earlier in the day, with protests growing and the Opposition demanding the resignation of Minister of State Bandaru Dattatreya and HRD Minister Smriti Irani, the BJP said the “the context of the clash between student groups was Rohith’s stand in support of terrorism, including that against the hanging of Yakub Memon”.
Rejecting Opposition calls for resignation of the ministers, the BJP maintained that they acted on a “complaint against anti-nationalism and fundamentalism” on the campus. The party’s Telangana unit circulated video clippings and recorded speeches of Rohith which the party alleged “echoed his stand supporting the enemies of the state”.
BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, who belongs to Karimnagar in Telangana, said Rohith’s suicide note was in fact an “ammunition” for his party to “expose” the matter.
“Many of his speeches, of which we have videos, show he had views that supported terrorists like Yakub Memon,” Rao told The Indian Express.
“This incident has nothing to do with Dalit issues or rights just because he was a Dalit… Disciplinary action was taken against Rohith on the advice of the court and even a lenient stand was taken by university authorities by permitting him to the campus except the hostel. The context of the clash between student groups was Rohith’s stand in support of terrorism, including that against the hanging of Yakub Memon,” he said.
According to Rao, Rohith’s letter was “self-explanatory”.
“With this letter, you cannot blame the BJP for his death. He was in conflict with himself… Nowhere in the note has he made any reference to his friends or enemies as the reason for his decision to commit suicide. He writes this: ‘I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness’.”
At the BJP headquarters, its two national secretaries, Shrikant Sharma and Sidharth Nath Singh, defended Dattatreya and Irani saying the MoS had merely forwarded a complaint about the alleged anti-national activities of some students on the campus to the HRD minister who then referred the matter to the institution for appropriate action.
Sharma said disciplinary action against Rohith and other students had been taken by the university even before the minister’s intervention. Singh said: “It was a complaint against anti-national activities and fundamentalism in the campus. It’s a serious issue and the ministers could not ignore it. If the ministers had ignored it and something had happened, the same people would allege inaction on the complaint.”
The BJP slammed Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for visiting the Hyderabad campus Tuesday. “It is unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi is doing politics over a suicide. Congress has stooped to such a low that it is doing politics over the death of a student. We reject any such demand (for resignation) outright,” Sharma said.
Last year, the BJP was in the dock when Minister of State V K Singh made his controversial dog remark while referring to the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana. “For everything… like if somebody throws a stone at a dog, then the Central government is responsible… it is not like that,” Singh had said.