New Delhi: Congress today targeted RSS and BJP in Lok Sabha over attacks on some dalit men in Gujarat for skinning a dead cow, saying the Hindutva organisation was working for “dalit-mukt Bharat” which was “sponsored” by BJP to polarise communities ahead of next year’s assembly polls there.
The opposition party demanded constitution of a joint parliamentary committee to go into the incident but Home Minister Rajnath Singh strongly refuted its charges and cited figures to claim that cases of atrocities against dalits have declined in the state since 2001 when Narendra Modi took over as chief minister, and commended the state government for its “swift and effective” action.
K Suresh (Cong) raised the issue in Zero Hour during which Congress members remained in the Well during protesting against the incident.
Referring to large-scale protests by dalits following the incident and “emergency-like” situation in parts of the BJP-ruled state, he said they have lost faith in the government and attributed the violence to RSS and upper caste lobby, inviting protests from the treasury benches.
Many dalits have tried to commit suicide as they have no faith in the state government, the Congress member alleged.
“Violence is RSS agenda. RSS is trying for dalit-mukt Bharat. The government totally failed. It was a BJP-sponsored attack. What is going on? Is this Gujarat model,” he said.
Suresh claimed it was the BJP’s agenda to polarise communities before the state assembly elections and alleged that the saffron party was doing it in all states ruled by it.
In his reply, Singh termed the incident “very unfortunate” and said he condemned it in strongest words,after he sought to turn the tables on Congress asserting that the cases of atrocities rose during its rule in Gujarat earlier.
He said dalits had faced lot of atrocities in the state during 1991-99. Incidentally, BJP had formed government under Keshubhai Patel there in 1995 and ruled for most of the period till 2001 when Modi took over.
Singh said crimes against dalits were a “social evil” and all parties should join hands to eradicate it.
The Anandiben Patel government acted swiftly and arrested accused and provided treatment and compensation to the victims, he said, adding that nine persons have been arrested.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the Home Minister’s reply, Congress and TMC members staged a walkout.
Singh, whose speech was disrupted quite often by Congress
members, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “very sad and hurt” after he came to know of the details of the incident on his return from foreign tour on July 12.
The state government, the Minister said, was planning to have a special court for the trial in the case. “I congratulate the state government for its swift and effective action,” he said.
“No government in India has done so much for the poor and dalits as the Modi government has,” the Home Minister claimed as he spoke about schemes like Jan Dhan and Start-up India aimed at their financial inclusion.
As Congress members continued to disrupt him off and on, he insisted that he will stand the whole day to complete his reply and sought to hit back at the opposition party by making a passing reference to cases of atrocities on dalits in Haryana when Congress was in power there.
“I am not talking about atrocities against dalits in Haryana. I have all details. You seemed to have made up your mind to walk out,” he said before reeling out figures of such cases during the UPA government to make his point.
Citing National Crime Records Bureau figures, he said they were over 32,000 in 2004, 38,000 in 2008 and 37,000 in 2009 as he rejected the Congress claim that BJP was behind such incidents.
“I request all political parties to commit themselves to eradication of such atrocities,” the Home Minister said.
It was an irony that such incidents targeting the weaker section were happening so many years after the country’s independence. “This is a social problem. It is a social evil,” Singh said.
Expressing dissatisfaction with his reply, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said whenever they raised an issue and sought the government’s response, it would recount the history of 65-70 years.
“Baap-dada (father-grandfather) of 80 per cent of yours were also in the Congress then,” he said.
Information & Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu
immediately demanded that the Speaker should delete the references to “baap dada”.
“Today they said 80 per cent of our ‘baap’ was in Congress. I, Sadananda Gowda, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh– none of us had ever smelled of Congress. I feel sad that somebody talks about our parents when they are not here to defend themselves. Such references should be deleted from records,” Naidu said.
Speaking on the issue, expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav said nothing was above humanity and animals cannot be worshipped at the cost of humans. “I can kill 1 lakh cows to save a human,” he said. Sumedhanand Saraswti (BJP) objected to Yadav’s comments, saying it would hurt people’s feelings.
Earlier during the Question Hour, virtually the entire Opposition in Lok Sabha had continuously protested the attacks on dalits in Gujarat by raising slogans, with Congress members raising slogans from the Well. Barring AIADMK, members from all opposition parties were on their feet as the Question Hour continued till noon.