The protests during 'Bharat bandh' against the Supreme Court verdict on the issue claimed at least nine lives and left hundreds of persons injured.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not uttering a word” on the alleged atrocities on Dalits and tribals and “dilution” of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. His remarks at a public meeting here on the fifth leg of his tour of the poll-bound Karnataka came against the backdrop of violence in northern parts of the country during yesterday’s protests against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The protests during ‘Bharat bandh’ against the Supreme Court verdict on the issue claimed at least nine lives and left hundreds of persons injured. “Rohit Vemula is murdered. Dalits are beaten up in Una (Gujarat) but the Prime Minister does not speak a word on it. Atrocities on Dalits and tribals are increasing and the SC/ST act has been diluted. Modi prefers not to speak a word,” he said.
Gandhi compared the status of SC/ST welfare in Karnataka with the Modi government’s actions on the issue. He claimed that more than half of the money released by the Modi government across the country for SC/ST welfare was being spent by Karnataka itself on the Dalits and tribals. He also attacked Modi on the CBSE question papers leak and on the “leak” of assembly election date for Karnataka, saying Modi was silent on these issues too. Lacing his remarks with sarcasm, Gandhi said the prime minister wrote a book (Exam Warriors) telling children how to face the exam and also gave a lecture for two hours on how to prepare for exams.
He said children took the advice seriously and prepared for the exam with the help of their parents but when they went to appear for the exam, they were told that the exams were cancelled as the question paper was leaked. “Modi may have failed in plugging the question paper leak but he may again lecture children how to prepare for exams and will tell them about the dos and don’ts during exam,” said Gandhi. On the one side, question papers are leaked, while on the other election dates are also leaked, Gandhi quipped. “It seems the RSS has taught Modi that he should stress more on giving lectures. The RSS has taught him to stand, hold stick, wear knickers and speak lies. I think the prime minister is now realising that the nation cannot be run with hatred, lathi, speeches and false promises”, he said.
He took a jibe at Modi for the India-China stand-off at Doklam despite “swinging” with China president Xi Jinping. “Modi and China president swung together. Later, the president responded by saying ‘I enjoyed the swing and now I am coming to Doklam’. “Chinese are building roads and airports in Doklam, but Modi is still swinging. The ’56-inch’ chest could not speak a word when China entered Doklam,” said Gandhi.
He took potshots at BJP state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa, who is being projected as the party’s chief ministerial face. Shivamogga is the home district of Yeddyurappa. “If he looks at the stage properly, on one side (of Modi) there is Yeddyurappa who spent time in jail (in a graft case), on the other side there are four ministers who had been to jail. Modiji you speak about corruption, when there are corrupt sitting next to you on the stage,” he said.
Gandhi quipped that the BJP has now started speaking truth. “First time the BJP spoke truth. Whatever they had in their mind they spoke it. Amit Shah said (at Davangere) that Yeddyurappa government was the most corrupt government. I am happy that he spoke truth for the first time in his life,” he said.
Gandhi was referring to Shah’s gaffe at a press conference in Davangere on March 27 where he said that the Yeddyurappa government was the most corrupt government in the country. He was actually referring to the Siddaramaiah government. Shah had, however, corrected himself immediately.
The Congress president also reminded Modi that the nation cannot be run with hatred, anger, violence and partiality. He said, “I have seen many prime ministers such as Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. One thing is clear. If you want to run the nation, you need to run it with love. You can take the nation to any heights with love. The more you connect people, the country will become stronger,” he said. Before addressing the public meeting, Rahul held a roadshow in the Shivamogga city, with thousands of people standing on the sides of the road to greet him.