New Delhi : Coming out all guns blazing on Smriti Irani over the suicide of Rohith Vemula- a Dalit scholar in Hyderabad, the Congress on Saturday lashed out at the Union Human Resource Development minister saying that it was the first time in history that such an ‘underqualified’ person had been chosen for the prestigious position of an education minister.
“The situation has worsened among in the education arena ever since the HRD minister assumed her position among controversy. For the first time in the history of the nation, a Prime Minister chose such an underqualified person as an education minister. It’s his right to make such a choice and we have no objection to that, but when someone makes false claims especially about their qualifications and achievements, then objecting to it becomes necessary,” Congress leader Anand Sharma told the media here.
Asserting that there is a lot of anger among students against the Centre, he said that there has been a sudden change in environment in universities across the nations and held the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh responsible for the recent display of antagonism by the students.
“There is anger simmering among the students against the government in many campuses and it is a matter of concern. We saw it in FTII in Pune, Jadavpur University in Bengal, IIT in Chennai and now in Hyderabad. The BJP and the RSS have a definite policy and strategy to corrupt the environment and bring a negative vibe to it,” Sharma said.
Training his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking action against his own ministers – Irani and Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya- who are under the scanner over Vemula’s death, the Congress spokesperson said that a ‘delayed response and emotion-filled words’ would not be enough and demanded an end to the ‘pretense of emotions’.
“It took the Prime Minister five days to react. He has a moral and a constitutional duty to take action. We need to ask that what has been done besides emotional words. Why has no action been taken against Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya? We cannot be satisfied by a belated, delayed response and some emotional words expressed by the Prime Minister,” Sharma said.
Maintaining that there have been contradictions ever since the suicide of Rohit, he accused the BJP of making statements that have been hurtful to the memory of the late scholar and slammed the Prime Minister for refusing to condemn such statements.
“The BJP made statements which were insulting and hurtful instead of being sincere in expression of sympathies. The ministers of the government including the HRD minister and Bandaru Dattatreya, did act in a manner which calls for not only condemnation but action,” Sharma said.
“PM Modi should tell the country now that how he will take accountability of his senior party colleagues for calling this departed Dalit student an anti-national. His refusal to condemn it and not take action against the VC amounts to shielding the culprit. We are right in demanding that the PM take action,” he said.
Earlier, the Congress had dubbed Prime Minister Modi’s regret over Rohit Vemula’s suicide as ‘shedding crocodile tears’ and said that he had disappointed the nation by not talking about taking action on those responsible for the Dalit scholar’s death.
An emotional Prime Minister Modi had expressed anguish at Vemula’s suicide and said that he felt the pain of the Dalit scholar’s family.
“A young son of my country, Rohith, was compelled to commit suicide, what his family must have gone through, I can feel the pain. A mother has lost his son, there cannot be a bigger grief. Reasons (behind the suicide) and politics may have their own place but the fact remains that a mother has lost her son,” he said.
Meanwhile, the executive council of the University revoked the suspension of the other four Dalit PhD scholars who had been expelled, along with Rohith Vemula, in December last year.
The announcement brought much cheer to protesting students who have been demanding that the university revoke the suspension of these students, since the day Vemula committed suicide in a hostel room.
They, however, vowed to continue their agitation unless the Centre agreed to meet their other demands that include the expulsion of university vice-chancellor, Appa Rao Podile.
Rohith, a second-year research scholar of Science, Technology and Society Studies Department, and others were suspended from the hostel last year following allegations that they attacked Sushil Kumar after the screening of a controversial documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’.
Earlier this month, five students were thrown out of the hostel after they accused the university authorities of denying them access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and workshops.
The 28-year-old victim from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district was found hanging at the hostel room of one of his friends around 7:30 pm on Sunday. (ANI)