Rahul Gandhi “Politicised” Rohith Vemula Case, Must Apologise: Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday demanded that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi apologise for “politicising” the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the University of Hyderabad student who died in 2016, as police in a state ruled by his own party have now said that “it was not a Dalit issue”.

The Telangana Police has filed a closure report before a court following a probe into Vemula’s death, claiming that he was not a Dalit and died by suicide as he feared that his real identity would be discovered.

Speaking with a group of select journalists in Pune, Ms Sitharaman pointed out that the police report has been filed in a Congress-ruled state.

“The closure report says he had a wrong certificate of SC (Scheduled Caste), and he was not an SC. But, the family of Vemula was dragged and exhibited in the country when it was grieving. The Congress, by dragging the family of Vemula in public, tried to politicise the issue. Look at the statements made by Rahul Gandhi then in Parliament that Vemula was pressurised,” the Union minister said.

Mr Gandhi should listen to the speeches he had made in the Lok Sabha at the time and apologise to the country, the BJP leader said.

“He should also apologise to the SC community for misusing (them). It was not a Dalit issue but (Gandhi) made it look like a Dalit issue. Now he is running ‘Mohabbat ki Dukan’, but back then he was running ‘toxic dukan’, and for that he should apologise,” she added.

Later, speaking on ‘The role of higher education in realising the vision of ‘viksit Bharat’ at Deccan College in the city and interacting with the students after the talk, Ms Sitharaman said the University of Hyderabad was not allowed to handle the issue with sensitivity.

A narrative was built that the government is suppressive, against students and against SCs, she claimed, adding, “Today the same people, who dragged that unfortunate family to the street, should stand up before the entire country and apologise for having politicised the incident.”

The wrong narrative came from “vested interest groups, self-appointed left-liberal group, self-appointed leader in the opposition, who says ‘mohabbat ki dukaan’,” she said.

“He actually perpetrated this problem, spoke so badly in Parliament about his interpretation (of the incident),” Ms Sitharaman alleged.

She said that rigorous research will have to be done with methodology, with data and without getting confused with the political narrative.

“The problem which could have been addressed amicably within the university, without dishonouring any particular student or family, was dragged to the streets of the country and allegations were levied against then education minister and central government as it was a central university,” she said.

The intolerance, political interference and hate lay not with the government but the vested interest groups which “do not lose an opportunity to bring this toxin into centres of higher education,” Ms Sitharaman claimed.

“We all respect the Dalit cause. The reservation given by the Constitution is affirmative support,” she added.

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