Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and the Jawaharlal Nehru University row, saying it was deliberately raking up issues of nationalism and sedition to divert the attention of people, angry with the government’s failures.
The BJP was raising these issues to “sow the seeds of Hindutva and secession ahead of the polls in various states,” Pawar said.
Speaking for the first time on the two raging controversies, Pawar said, “The BJP is going to lose in all five state polls this year. As it sees this defeat coming, the party is trying to sow the seeds of secession and Hindutva.”
The former Union agriculture minister was addressing a meeting of his party leaders in Mumbai. He targeted the BJP-led governments both at the Centre and the state through much of the speech and blamed the Centre for Vemula’s suicide by recounting the chronology of events leading up to his death.
“Union ministers wrote to the Hyderabad University, asking them to take action against these students, including Vemula, for anti-national activities. Their stipends were also stopped. Vemula committed suicide only because of the action against him, after the letters by the Union ministers,” Pawar said.
Attacking the government for the crackdown on JNU, he said, “This whole incident is a political conspiracy. The crackdown against JNU students is being driven by ABVP (the RSS’ student wing) as its candidates lost in the student body polls. What is condemnable is the Union government has tried to defend its actions.”
Pawar chose to draw links between the two incidents and said the Union government was trying to corner universities across the country.
“The larger question is why are all universities suddenly being cornered? The BJP is trying to create a different atmosphere in the country as it doesn’t have the capability to deliver on its promise of ‘Acche din’. To divert people’s attention from their failures, they are raking up such issues,” Pawar said.