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No face saving for BJP

No face saving for BJP
Highlights

Finally, the Prime Minister had to break his silence. The Union Human Resources Development Ministry on Friday decided to set up a judicial commission to probe the circumstances which led to the suicide of Dalit research scholar of the Hyderabad University. 

Finally, the Prime Minister had to break his silence. The Union Human Resources Development Ministry on Friday decided to set up a judicial commission to probe the circumstances which led to the suicide of Dalit research scholar of the Hyderabad University.

The university has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 8 lakh for Rohith’s family. But, all this is only after a nationwide protest and a frantic bid to cover up the culpability. The ruling party and the government made every effort to divert the nation’s attention. The judicial probe was ordered only after exhausting every option.

First, the Union government tried to belittle the fact that the Union Minister from Hyderabad wrote a letter, seeking action on the students. The remarkable alacrity with which the Union Minister of Human Resources Development acted was shown as a routine bureaucratic action.

Yet, the vice-chancellor was not found fault with, revealing the fact that the university administration acted only after undue pressure from political bosses. There was also a feeble attempt to name a Congress MP in this. But anyone with an iota of political sense will understand that the government will not act so strongly on a letter written by an opposition MP especially on such a political issue.

Then came the statement from the Union HRD Minister calling a Dalit varsity official responsible for the action on Rohith and other Dalit students to describe the issue as not that of Dalit versus non-Dalit. But, this has in fact boomeranged with the university official concerned rejecting the claim of the Union Minister.

The Minister’s remarks have further complicated the matter with more than a dozen Dalit faculty members rendering their resignations for administrative positions in protest against what they called deceptive statement by the Union Minister. The Union Minister did not contradict the facts put in the public domain by the Dalit faculty.

The absurd part of the episode was raising the issue of caste antecedents of the departed soul. The Union Minister gave a public statement aimed at creating a wedge between Dalits and OBCs. The Centre has even sought information on the caste status of Rohith. There was a concerted campaign to project Rohith as OBC. But, this proved to be a damp squib.

A few hours before the Centre announced a judicial enquiry, the university authorities terminated the suspension of other students. Such an action if initiated a few days before would have saved the life of an aspiring researcher who came from a humble family.

It would have also avoided such a political embarrassment to BJP. Still, the university gesture was conditional thus inviting a sharp rejection by the agitating students. All these confrontationist moves by the central government and the party running it did not prevent a storm of nationwide protest which saw an unprecedented political unity that included even the BJP allies.

The Lok Janshakti Party has openly joined the forces with the opposition camp while its local ally TDP has clearly demarcated itself. The unwarranted interference in the affairs of an autonomous institution and an attempt to absolve it of the responsibility later has proved to be politically costlier for the BJP.

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