Human resource development minister Smriti Irani and BSP supremo Mayawati had a bitter exchange in the Rajya Sabha on Friday over the issue of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad.
Irani also locked horns with CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury as acrimonious scenes played out in the House over the Vemula issue and the Jawaharlal Nehru University row.
Alleging a conspiracy to protect the culprits, Mayawati mounted a frontal assault on the government for not including a Dalit member in the one-man judicial panel set up to probe Vemula’s death.
“The other side (those who allegedly drove Rohith to kill himself) is a strong supporter of the RSS, so the government is hell bent upon saving them…The government could have had more members in the commission but it is mum, it shows anti-Dalit mindset,” she said.
She said the man heading the commission, former Allahabad high court judge Ashok Kumar Roopanwal, was from the upper caste community.
“To my question whether a Dalit member is part of the commission, the government has not answered this so far. On February 24, I had asked this question and it has not been answered so far,” she said. Irani had earlier said the judge had served diligently in UP when Mayawati was the CM and she should have no doubts over whether he could deliver justice. Irani’s justification, however, cut no ice with the BSP leader.
Yechury also joined the debate in the House. On Irani quoting from Shakespeare’s Macbeth on Thursday, Yechury said, “She quoted Macbeth ‘Foul is fair and fair is foul.’ She is making all that is foul, fair…Please do not pass unverified statements as evidence.”
Responding to Yechury’s charge, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that every word that Irani had spoken had been authenticated by university authorities.