Maya 'quits' in clawback bid 

BSP leader Mayawati today submitted her resignation from the Rajya Sabha after being disallowed from speaking at length on alleged atrocities on Dalits, in a move being seen as an attempt to gain the confidence of her core constituency in the aftermath of the party's rout in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

By Our Bureau
  • Published 19.07.17
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Mayawati. (Prem Singh)

New Delhi, July 18: BSP leader Mayawati today submitted her resignation from the Rajya Sabha after being disallowed from speaking at length on alleged atrocities on Dalits, in a move being seen as an attempt to gain the confidence of her core constituency in the aftermath of the party's rout in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

The resignation letter has attributed her decision to Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien's refusal to allow her to speak beyond the three minutes allotted to her and the disruptions to her speech by the Treasury benches, including ministers.

"Km Mayawati, BSP, met Chairman, Rajya Sabha, and submitted her resignation in person. The resignation will be duly examined," tweeted G.S. Sappal, officer on special duty to the Rajya Sabha Chairperson.

Mayawati's tenure was supposed to end on April 2 next year.

Sources said the resignation might not be accepted as it was not in conformity with Rajya Sabha rules that stipulate that it must be voluntary.

"If the Chairman, after making a summary enquiry either himself or through the agency of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat or through such other agency as he may deem fit, is satisfied that the resignation is not voluntary or genuine, he shall not accept the resignation," the rules say.

There have been instances of resignation letters being rejected because reasons had been cited. Sources said Mayawati's mention of the refusal to allow her to speak beyond the stipulated time and the allegation of disruption could be interpreted as provocation for resignation, and therefore not voluntary.

Mayawati's resignation also mentions that in 2003, she had resigned as Uttar Pradesh chief minister because of the BJP's meddling in her alliance government.

As the Rajya Sabha sat this morning on the first day of the monsoon session, the BSP chief got up to speak on an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition seeking a discussion on cases of rising atrocities against Dalits, minorities and the poor.

Kurien permitted Mayawati to speak for three minutes during the Zero Hour.

Mayawati said she should be allowed to speak for at least five to 10 minutes. She said that ever since the NDA government had come to power at the Centre, Dalits, minorities and the poor were facing atrocities and discrimination across the country, particularly in the BJP-ruled states. She referred to attacks on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP came to power there earlier this year.

The BSP chief pointed out that at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Dalits had been subjected to atrocities. On Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14, they wanted to take out a procession to Sant Ravi Das temple and install a statue of the Dalit icon, but they were not given permission, Mayawati said. However, on the occasion of Maharana Pratap's birth anniversary on May 5, upper caste Thakurs were allowed to organise a procession, she noted.

BJP members created a din when Mayawati criticised the Uttar Pradesh government. At this point, Kurien asked her to sit down.

"Please allow me to complete, Sir. I will resign if I am not allowed to speak. If I cannot protect the interests of my community, I will resign from this House," Mayawati said and walked out immediately.

Some Opposition members later requested her to reconsider her decision.

Sources said Mayawati's decision was more an attempt to win the confidence of the Dalits, who constitute 21 per cent of the population of Uttar Pradesh and 17 per cent nationally. In the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections earlier this year, the BSP had won only 19 of the 403 seats. In 2012, the BSP had won 80.

Among the Scheduled Castes, 56 per cent belong to the Chamar or Jatav caste, to which Mayawati belongs.

Political pundits say a section of Dalits had possibly voted for the BJP in the last Assembly elections as they felt that the state government had failed to ensure viability of their traditional occupations.

Speaking to the media inside the Parliament premises after she staged the walk-out, Mayawati cited Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, who had resigned from the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet in 1951 after the Hindu Code Bill failed to get the Congress's support.

Mayawati said the houses of 60 to 70 Dalit families were burnt down and pregnant women were assaulted in Saharanpur. The Yogi Adityanath government remained a mute spectator, she alleged.

"When we sent cheques for the affected families, the administration did not allow our workers to distribute them among the families. There is maha jangal raj in Uttar Pradesh now," Mayawati said.

During Zero Hour, members are allowed to raise matters of public importance. Each member is allotted three minutes. But Mayawati argued that the three-minute norm should not apply to her because she was speaking following an adjournment motion that sought to suspend all rules for a discussion on atrocities on Dalits.

"This is not the first time I have come to the Rajya Sabha. I have been elected to the Lok Sabha too. Parliament is meant for raising issues affecting deprived people. Ambedkar was law minister. Ambedkar was a person with self-respect. He resigned. I follow Ambedkar. I have decided to resign," she told reporters.

"If they think they will win over Dalits by fielding a Dalit as their presidential candidate, they are wrong," Mayawati said, referring to the NDA's choice of Ram Nath Kovind.

Later she submitted her resignation.

In the Rajya Sabha, junior parliamentary affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Mayawati was indulging in politics. "She is not protecting the interests of the Scheduled Castes. She has threatened the Chair. She should apologise," Naqvi said.

The leader of the Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured that the Opposition would be allowed to raise all issues.

"Today, they are going against their own government. You are going against the promise made by the Prime Minister," Azad said. "You got the mandate to protect Dalits and minorities. We did not know that the mandate is against Dalits and minorities," Azad said. The Congress members staged a walkout for a brief period.

BSP and Samajwadi Party leaders rushed to the Well, shouting slogans that accused the government of being anti-Dalit.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government was forcing farmers to commit suicide by not giving them remunerative price for their produce as promised.

"This is how the government is browbeating the Opposition. Their arrogance is showing because they have the majority in the Lok Sabha," Yechury told reporters later.

The Congress MPs returned to the House within five minutes of the walkout. They shouted slogans along with Samajwadi and BSP members, leading to the first adjournment. The House reassembled at noon. But Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned it again till 2pm because of protests.

At 2pm, leader of the Lok Sabha Arun Jaitley said the government was ready for discussion and minister for social justice and empowerment Thawaarchand Gehlot said the Opposition had no issues.