Dalit purify taint on BJP

BJP Mahila Morcha members allegedly "purified" a spot in Kerala where Congress Lok Sabha MP Kodikunnil Suresh, a Dalit, protested against the Centre, prompting a police complaint by his party.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.10.17
  •  

Oct. 13: BJP Mahila Morcha members allegedly "purified" a spot in Kerala where Congress Lok Sabha MP Kodikunnil Suresh, a Dalit, protested against the Centre, prompting a police complaint by his party.

Morcha workers, led by a local leader, Rajeshwari Rajendran, allegedly poured a mixture of cow dung and water on the site at Kottarakkara in Kollam district, soon after Suresh had ended a 24-hour hunger strike on October 11 against a delay in a railway gauge-conversion project in the backward pocket.

The Kottarakkara unit of the Congress lodged the complaint yesterday, a day after the incident, under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A six-time MP, Suresh is law graduate and rose up the party ranks from being a Youth Congress leader in the 1980s. He represents the Mavelikkara seat, around 50km from the protest spot.

Nelson Thomas, a Congress councillor in Kottarakkara, said the party would not to tolerate such an "atrocity" against a Dalit leader. "This shows the BJP's upper-caste mentality and that they follow a regressive policy even against respected leaders just because they happen to be Dalits," said Thomas.

Today, a group of Congress workers sprinkled milk at the site in a symbolic protest against the BJP's "purification". "Milk, not cow dung, is our symbol of purity. Our protest signifies that the BJP's caste politics won't work in Kerala," said Thomas.

According to Thomas, Suresh was only protesting the delay in the gauge conversion of the Kollam-Chengottai railway link. "All he said was that the central government should complete the gauge conversion without more delay to make travel easier for the local people."

Leader of Opposition, the Congress's Ramesh Chennithala, had flagged off the hunger strike while state party chief M.M. Hassan attended its conclusion on October 11.

State Congress general secretary Joseph Vazhakkan termed the BJP's ritual "a clear sign of bias against Dalits and the downtrodden." "This is an attack on a well-respected Dalit leader whom the people have elected so many times. We will take up this issue at the highest level," said Vazhakkan.

Another senior Congress leader, Pandalam Sudhakaran, said the incident was a reflection of BJP's culture and urged the state's Left government to take suo motu action. "This is a clear case of humiliating the Dalit community and disrespecting Parliament itself as Suresh is a Lok Sabha MP," he pointed out.

The BJP did not deny the "purification" but accused Suresh of trying to appropriate "credit" for central projects. "He (Suresh) has been in the habit of taking credit for any project our NDA government grants to Kerala and our district. Suresh often launches protests and takes credit for the projects," Kollam BJP president G. Gopinath said.