Thousands of Bahujan Samaj Party workers thronged Lucknow’s streets on Thursday, shouting slogans and demanding the arrest of an expelled senior BJP leader who called BSP chief and four-time chief minister Mayawati a “prostitute”.
Angry protesters – mostly Dalits –burnt effigies of former BJP state vice-president Daya Shanker Singh, who made the objectionable remarks.
As calls for his arrest mounted, police raided Singh’s house in Qaiserbagh but couldn’t find him with sources saying he had gone to Balia in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Senior BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui – who was leading the protests -- said the demonstrations would continue until Singh was arrested.
The comment has triggered a political storm ahead of state polls early next year, when the sizeable Dalit population is likely to be crucial.
The BJP that has made several overtures to the community sacked Singh within hours of the remark with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley apologizing to Mayawati.
“We have taken action against Dayashankar, issue has ended now,” information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu told ANI.
But the BSP, which counts the state’s Dalit population as its primary votebank, refused to back down, with party members protesting in several states, including Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
In Lucknow, many protesters were locked in scuffled with BJP supporters, forcing the police to put up barricades to stop BSP workers from moving to the BJP office in Hazratganj.
The massive protests triggered mile-long traffic snarls as thousands of four-wheelers and two-wheelers got stuck on all routes in the area.