As several parts of Maharashtra continued to reel under caste violence, Congress today accused the RSS and certain Hindutva outfits of triggering it and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the clashes.
Forcefully raising the issue in Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wondering why he was maintaining a studied silence on the issue.
"The RSS and certain hardcore Hindutva outfits are behind the violence. They are trying to drive a wedge between the Marathas and Dalits in Maharashtra," Kharge alleged.
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A visibly anguished Kharge also tore some papers he was holding when BJP members vociferously protested his remarks.
"Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on the issue? He always maintaince silence on issues relating to Dalits. He has become a 'Mouni Baba'on Dalit issues," he said.
The Congress leader said similar violence against Dalits have been witnessed in a number of states including Gujarat where BJP was in power.
Kharge's comments triggered angry response from the BJP MPs, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar rebutting the charges and accusing the Congress of trying to play politics over the issue.
"Congress wants to politicise the issue. The party suffered electoral drubbing in so many states in the recent past and that is why they want to milk political mileage over the issue," Kumar alleged.
The minister's response infuriated the Congress MPs who trooped into the Well of the House and shouted slogans like 'Stop humiliating Babasaheb Ambedkar', 'stop dividing the country' and 'PM speak up'.
Earlier, when BJP MPs tried to disrupt Kharge's speech, the Congress leader even tore some papers and voiced anguish over not being able to put across his point of view. Later, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan pacified him.
"Similar violence against Dalits have been witnessed in so many states including in Gujarat and Maharastra. Wherever BJP is in power, such violence against Dalits takes place," he said.
Kharge also alleged that "some fascist forces always want to keep the Dalits in lowest strata of the society".
Maharashtra remained on edge after the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune brought to fore simmering caste tensions which engulfed several other areas in the state.
(With PTI inputs)