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Rohith's mother, Mayawati punch holes in HRD Minister's claims

"I am not satisfied with your reply. Would you now cut your head and put it at my feet," Mayawati asks Irani in RS

Rohith Vemula, Radhika Vemula,

BS Reporter 

Rohith Vemula's mother
Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula's mother Radhika with Prasanth Dontha, a student expelled from Hyderabad University, at a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

It was yet another day, as the government tried to bring up anti-national slogans allegedly by students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and their reported worship of Mahishasura and insult to Goddess Durga while the Opposition, Left, and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati focused on how the government allegedly pushed Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula to end his life.

Radhika Vemula, mother on Friday said Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani had lied in Parliament on the sequence of events that led to the death and the follow-up.

She said she was pained that her son has been described as “anti-national” and demanded resignations of both Irani as well Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya for their interference in the university administration that pushed Vemula to end his life. Radhika, flanked by her son Raja, also disputed several of Irani’s claims about Rohith continuing to get his fellowship money. On the controversy about her not being a Dalit, Radhika said she was born a Dalit but raised in a Vaddera family who treated her badly.

The day also witnessed another heated exchange between Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Irani in the Rajya Sabha. Mayawati said the government is working with an anti-Dalit mindset to protect those guilty of having forced Vemula to end his life. She said not only the commission of inquiry to probe Vemula’s suicide had no representation from the Dalit community but it also violated the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, and whatever report it might submit would not stand judicial scrutiny.

Earlier in the Rajya Sabha, Irani had claimed there was Dalit representation in the Executive Council that took disciplinary action against Rohith and that he had been getting his fellowship until November. She claimed to have spoken to Rohith's mother as well. A heated exchange ensued between the two as Mayawati brought up the Minister's comment made on Wednesday. Irani had then said she would chop her head off and keep it at the feet of the BSP chief if Mayawati wasn't satisfied with her reply.

The BSP chief said the Minister should have offered a job to Rohith's brother to show her positive intent towards the family. "I find your reply unsatisfactory. Would you now fulfill your promise (of chopping her head)," Mayawati asked. Irani said let BSP cadres chop her head off. The BSP chief also criticized the Minister for twisting Dalit history and insulting Dalits and tribals by bringing up references to Mahishasura and Goddess Durga.

Later, Communist Party of India chief Sitaram Yechury also questioned Irani having read out controversial passages from a social media post of some students that insulted Goddess Durga. "I want a ruling from the chair whether any social media content can be read in the House without authentication," Yechury asked. He said the ministers of the government had "murdered" Vemula by their constant interference.

Yechury said Mahabali was worshipped in Kerala and Mahishasura is also worshipped by several communities. He warned that such a controversy would wreck "mayhem" in the country. Yechury also reminded the House that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee extolled the then PM Indira Gandhi as Mother Durga after the victory in the Bangladesh war in 1971, she refused to accept the honorific because several communities also worship Mahishasura.

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First Published: Sat, February 27 2016. 00:20 IST