Just as BJP was bracing for a political storm over the violent dalit protests in Gujarat, the party’s UP vice-president Dayashankar Singh made sexist and derogatory remarks against BSP chief Mayawati that left BJP squirming on Wednesday. It came at a time when BJP had launched an aggres sive dalit outreach ahead of a challenging election in UP next year.
A row over the demolition of an Ambedkar memorial in Mumbai added fuel to the fire when it has launched an aggressive Dalit outreach ahead of a challenging election in UP next year.
The incident quickly gained political color with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Anandiben Patel – under fire for allowing the protests to gather momentum due to delayed action – visiting the Dalit family attacked at Una in Gir Somnath district while opposition parties zeroed in on BJP in Parliament. The AAP government who is in a battle with Modi government is not lagging behind.
The incident triggered on July11. While driving cow leather four dalit youth got bitten at gir-somnath district in Una, Gujarat. The youths claimed that, the cow died in usual way and then they were casting off the leather from its skin. Still some members from the local cow protection association alleged them as cow slaughter and got them naked in the street and beat them with iron rods. They dragged them with a chain tied with car to the local police station. The video got viral in social media and the pages flooded with protests.
BJP’s efforts to send a pro-Dalit message, reflected in the recent expansion of the Modi ministry with five Scheduled Caste leaders among 19 new ministers, were jolted by what were seen as slow responses of the Gujarat and Maharashtra governments to developing situations apart from the intemperate outburst against Mayawati. The incidents are a challenge to BJP’s plans to overcome issues like the Rohith Vermula suicide by reaching out to Dalits with a mix of empowerment promises and Hindutva appeals.
BJP initially announced that its UP unit vice-chief Dayashankar Singh had been divested of his party posts. It led to Mayawati demanding that BJP should first expel him and then take stronger action against him. BSP members filed an FIR against Singh at Hazratganj police station. Late at night, BJP expelled Singh for six years.
BJP fielded its dalit politicians like Thawar Chand Gehlot and Arjun Meghwal to claim that the party acted promptly in Gujarat and that Congress and BSP were looking to derive political mileage. But BJP’s attempts to point to antidalit violence under Congress governments or its defence of the Gujarat government were severely undermined by Dayashankar Singh’s comparison of Mayawati with sex workers.
Singh’s statement came as BJP was bracing for a discussion in Parliament over the flogging of a dalit family for allegedly skinning a dead cow by a “gau raksha“ (cow protection) group that accused them of slaughtering the animal and saw even allies like LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan registering his protest with home minister Rajnath Singh.
Speaking in RS, Mayawati hit back hard, saying, “What that BJP leader has said, he said it not to me but to his sister and his daughter because people treat me like their daughter and sister… people will come on the streets.” Amid condemnation of the remarks, Mayawati spoke out against BJP in Rajya Sabha saying mere expression of regret would not suffice. “The whole country will not forgive BJP,“ she said, adding that Singh’s comments reflected a mindset and that she had never stooped to personal remarks against political opponents.
Finance minister and leader of the House Arun Jaitley expressed regret saying the remarks were highly condemnable. “I regret the use of such words and will ensure that the matter is taken up by the concerned. I personally express regret to Mayawatiji. I associate our dignity with yours and stand with you,” Jaitley said. While Mayawati appreciated Jaitley’s stance, she demanded that Singh be expelled from the party and strong action be taken against him.
Singh belatedly apologized for his remarks, claiming a “slip of tongue” and said he respected Mayawati. The clarification came too late as the controversy only made what was a bad day for BJP due to the Gujarat protests even worse.
“Mayawati has become worse than a sex worker” : BJP leader Dayashankar Singh