Late night on Friday when the students of Hyderabad were holding a candlelight vigil as a silent protest against the govt’s inaction against the ministers involved in the expulsion of Dalit students from the University of Hyderabad, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi joined the late night vigil marking another voice for the protesters.
Since the Congress vice president’s visit to Hyderabad, the BJP govt has decried this move as emotionally hollow but filled with strong political resonance.
Speaking to reporters in a press conference held today on the accusations of politicisation of the Dalit issue by Rahul Gandhi, Congress minister Ajay Maken said, “Our minister and Congress Party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi ji is with the students of the University of Hyderabad today to lend them his voice. Yesterday night, also in the candlelight march, he had participated with the students to give them support. It is a sad thing that the BJP and the BJP govt, instead of carrying out investigations, instead of strictly dealing with the vice chancellor, their own minister who is responsible for this incident, responsible for suicide, instead of carrying out investigation against them, Rahul Gandhi is being told that he is engaging in politics.”
“Today, we want to ask the BJP, where did this issue stem from? This issue started when a BJP’s student wing, a member of ABVP, when upon his issuance of complaint . . . a complaint by the ABVP, a letter is first written by minister Bandaru Dattatreya. After him, the HRD minister writes a letter five times to the university asking about why there were no investigations carried out regarding the complaint. When the letters were written five times by Smriti Irani, by the HRD minister demanding a trial against the accused students, what was happening during that time? Wasn’t it engagement of politics?”
Steering fierce criticism towards the BJP ministers accused of suspension of the Dalit student, he said, “The question that arises today is when Bandaru Dattatreya wrote a letter as a complaint following the ABVP’s first complaint, was it not politics? The time when this Dalit student committed suicide, was forced to commit suicide, one day after the suicide, Smriti Irani, the HRD minister calls forth a press conference and justifies the action taken by the vice chancellor. Was it not politics? After that, BJP’s National General Secretary, Muralidhar Rao says that ‘this Dalit student is not Dalit at all’; he said that ‘this student had relations with the Naxals’, he also calls him ‘anti-national’ which is an unequivocal lie. So when BJP’s National General Secretary said this, wasn’t this politicisation? Was this not politics? It is a shameful and a sad thing that the govt’s own HRD minister who holds sole responsibility for the suicide, there is no investigations against the minister. There is no trial or investigation for their minister Bandaru Dattatreya. There is no investigation against the ABVP people who are equally responsible for this incident. Instead of replacing the vice chancellor, he has been endowed with an additional charge of NCRI. They are the ones engaging in politics.
Asked about Sambit Patra’s press conference which questioned Rahul Gandhi’s absence from riot-hit Malda, he said, “It is not the commitment of the suicide which lead to this escalation of this entire issue; if you look at the history, these five Dalit students were suspended, their scholarships were withdrawn, and this was done at the behest of ABVP. The ABVP which is a student wing of the BJP on the basis of the five letters written by the union HRD minister on the basis of a union minister writing a letter to Smriti Irani, so this whole politicisation took place because of the BJP, because of the ABVP, because of Smriti Irani writing five letters. Therefore, this is a clear case of the direct involvement of the BJP.
Commenting on Venkaiah Naidu who will be visiting Hyderabad University late today evening, the Congress minister said, “Venkaiah Naidu should’ve done this much before. This poor Dalit student wrote letters, wrote on Facebook about the plight of Dalits in Hyderabad University. Was Mr. Venkaiah Naidu sleeping at that time? He didn’t find time to visit Hyderabad University at that time? Was Smriti Irani sleeping at that time? What was the vice chancellor doing when this Dalit student was writing on Facebook, writing letters to the vice chancellor? Why didn’t these govt authorities visit the poor student at that time so that the situation didn’t escalate further?”