Irani, Maya duel jolts Rajya Sabha
The first working day of the Budget session in Rajya Sabha started on a stormy note. The House faced repeated adjournments over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, with slogan-shouting Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members – led by party chief Mayawati – trooping into the Well several times seeking the resignation of some Union Ministers.
Amid sloganeering by BSP, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said the Opposition was using a “dead child” (Rohith) as “a political tool and strategy” and asked the Opposition to start a discussion on the issue “right now”. Vemula’s suicide led to a heated argument between Irani and Mayawati.
Mayawati, dubbing the incident an “insult to 25 crore Dalits” in the country, wanted the government’s response on her demand for the resignation of two Union ministers allegedly linked to the suicide. Mayawati said Vemula’s suicide was a matter of grave concern.
“Since the time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come to power at the Centre, nefarious means are being used to impose RSS ideology,” she said, adding that prestigious institutions like Hyderabad University, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Milia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were being interfered with.
However, she claimed that a Dalit student’s suicide was not the first case and many Dalit students have committed suicide in the past including when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre.
Making an emotional appeal with regard to Vemula’s suicide, Irani in her reply to Mayawati, said: “Mai vinamra nivedan karti hun...aap mujhse varishth hain, mahila hai. Agar aap mera jawab chahti hain toh mai jawab dene ko tyaar hun. Aapki jo-jo maange hai, mai subah se sun rahi hun behenji. Mai aapse kehti hun agar mere jawab se aap santusht nahi ho, toh iss sabah mei kehti hun Mayawati ji, mai BSP ke ek-ek karyakarta aur aapke netaon se kehti hun, sar kalam karke aapke charon mei chod dungi. Sun lijiye aap mera jawab (I request you, Mayawati ji. I am ready to give a reply. I have been listening to your demands since morning. And if you are not satisfied with my reply, then I will behead myself and put my head in your feet.)”
Rejecting the charge of saffronising education, she said, she would quit politics if it was established she made any such attempt to do so. She said Kanhaiya Kumar and some other students were found indulging in anti-national activities by the JNU authorities themselves.
Taking on the Congress, Irani said most of the vice-chancellors are Congress appointees, adding she had asked them to listen to the students who come from different backgrounds and address their issues. “Help me build the nation, not destroy it from within,” she said, stressing, “I respect your patriotism, don’t demean mine... I have my idea of India...don’t demean it.”
Meanwhile, BSP members forced five adjournments in the pre-lunch session raising slogans that the “anti-Dalit, anti-Ambedkar” government will not be allowed to run.
A visibly upset Ansari said: “Disruption of House is the violation of the privilege of individual members of the House. Do not trample the privilege your colleagues.” Members from treasury benches welcomed Ansari’s remarks.