The Congress on Friday said Uttar Pradesh party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi's remark against Chief Minister Mayawati would not hamper the party's efforts to woo Dalits in the state.
"As far as the effect of this issue is concerned, it will be short lived and not be an impediment to our efforts to get Dalit voters to our fold," a senior Congress leader who is a union minister said when asked if he saw the episode hampering the Congress's efforts to make inroads among Dalits.
The party has dissociated itself from Joshi's remark. Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi quoted Sonia Gandhi as expressing "deep pain and anguish" over the events in Uttar Pradesh, including Joshi's remarks.
However, Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid said Joshi's remark was "not casteist" and it was wrong to charge her under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
"The remark made by Joshi was not casteist and charging her under the Dalit Act can not be justified," Khurshid said.
Joshi was arrested Wednesday night for derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati. Alleged Bahujan Samaj Party activists set her home in Lucknow on fire.
Joshi was sent to Moradabad jail Thursday morning on 14 days' judicial custody.