The BJP’s vice-president in Uttar Pradesh was expelled from the party for six years on Wednesday for comparing Dalit leader and four-time chief minister Mayawati to a prostitute , a remark that triggered political outrage and a demand for his arrest.
Daya Shankar Singh, an upper-caste Thakur, called the BSP chief a “vaishya” for allegedly selling party tickets to aspiring candidates for next year’s state polls.
For her part, Mayawati demanded Singh’s arrest. “Otherwise, if in response to this, people get violent, it will not be on my conscience,” she said in the Rajya Sabha.
In evening, senior BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui had filed an FIR against the BJP leader in Lucknow.
Singh’s remark comes as an embarrassment for the BJP, which has been trying to woo Dalit voters in the state.
“Look at the way Mayawati is selling tickets. Even a prostitute keeps her commitment. But look at a leader like Mayawati who sells a ticket for Rs 1 crore, then after some time, if another is willing to pay Rs 2 crore, she will give the ticket to him. Mayawati has become worse than a prostitute,” he said in Mau.
Singh, a former Lucknow University Students Union (LUSU) president who was promoted from a secretary to vice-president in the party unit, withdrew his statement later, and apologised.
“I was referring to the crisis of credibility that she faces. In a different context, I had said that even prostitutes have some credibility,” he tried to reason.
But the damage was already done. His comments came at a time protests were growing in Gujarat over an attack by cattle vigilantes on four Dalit men. Opposition MPs disrupted Parliament and accused the BJP-led NDA of condoning attacks on Dalits and pursuing a policy that keeled towards the upper caste.
The Congress came in support of Mayawati, and denounced Singh’s comments. “This man has to be arrested before sundown. This has to be made an example of,” party leader Renuka Chowdhury said.
The uproar in the Upper House prompted senior BJP leader and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley to condemn Singh’s remark and express regret.
“I should tell Mayawatiji that the party shares her grief over this issue, I will look into this matter. We stand with her. I am personally hurt that a BJP party person used such derogatory words against her,” he said.
The BJP’s state unit chief, Keshav Prasad Maurya, too apologized and warned party workers to control their tongue. “When criticising our political opponents, we must take care about the use of words. We can question our political rivals, but we have to be very careful about our choice of words,” he said.
His warning follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s code of conduct for party leaders and workers in June, a seven-point guideline outlining how they should behave, work, and talk in public.
Modi is set to address a rally in Gorakhpur on Friday, part of the BJP’s concerted effort to wrest power in the state where it did exceptionally well in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 71 of the 80 seats.
The party has its eyes on the large Dalit electorate, which is known to be the BSP’s core support base.
In April this year, the BJP had expelled Madhu Mishra, its UP women’s wing president for making anti-Dalit remarks.
(With agency inputs)