A day after a Bharat Bandh called by Dalit and tribal organizations had led to loss of life and property, the BJP and the Congress in Bihar crossed swords over the issue of dilution of SC/ST Act.
While the BJP accused the Congress and its allies of having misled the Dalits over the issue, the latter charged the saffron party with having failed to show the sense of urgency that had been there during the triple talaq issue.
At least 11 persons were killed and hundreds injured in violence across several states as protesters blocked trains, clashed with police and set fire to private and public properties during the nationwide bandh yesterday. It was called in protest against dilution of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar said Congress president Rahul Gandhi “should tell us which foreign agency did he take help from for setting the entire country on fire”.
“The NDA government strengthened the SC/ST Act by bringing an amendment in 2015 and introduced many schemes to improve the lives of the depressed classes,” he tweeted.
But 20 political parties, which enjoyed the dinner recently hosted by Sonia Gandhi, misled the Dalits about the Supreme Court order and the result was the mayhem, Modi said.
“The country paid the price for the so-called opposition unity by losing innocent lives and destruction of public property worth crores,” the senior BJP leader said.
Though the Centre had no role to play in the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act, it filed a review petition, he said adding that a rumour was still spread that the apex court was acting as per the diktats of the NDA.
Meanwhile, Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh said in a statement that had his party been in power it would convene a special session of the Parliament and the issue would have been resolved by now.
“In the wake of the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the SC/ST Act, the Narendra Modi government showed none of the sense of urgency which was on display during the triple talaq issue”, Singh alleged.
“The BJP government displayed a laid back attitude on the issue, which has resulted in the apex court not granting a stay on its earlier order. In contrast, the Congress has always stood firmly in support of issues that concern the depressed classes. Even the stringent SC/ST Act of 1989 was brought in by the Rajiv Gandhi government”, he said.
The Supreme Court on March 20 diluted the provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.