Congress, BJP spar in LS over Maharashtra violence

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) The Congress and the BJP clashed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday over the Maharashtra violence which left a young man dead.

Congress leaders blamed the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the unrest while the BJP accused the Congress of politicising the issue and “dividing the masses”.

Before the issue was raised, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan cautioned that allegations and counter-allegations cannot solve the problem.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said atrocities against Dalits were on the rise and blamed “some fascist powers” for it.

The Congress demanded a probe in the Bhima-Koregaon incident headed by a Supreme Court judge and a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

“When Dalits start living with dignity, and organise some event, there are some people who try to disturb it. This happened in Koregaon (in Pune district),” Kharge said.

He said Dalits had never been a part of armies before the British came, to which Mahajan replied that Dalits were a part of Maratha ruler Shivaji’s Army.

Kharge then said: “It is a bid to divide the Mahars and the Marathas by some Hindu extremist and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”

“Wherever the BJP is in power, there is discrimination against Dalits,” he added.

Kharge blamed Modi for being silent on the issue of atrocities against Dalits.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar slammed the Congress for trying to divide the masses.

“He (Kharge) does not want to resolve the problem in Maharashtra, he is trying to incite people. He is doing politics.

“As the British divided and ruled the people, the Congress is doing the same… This should be a forum to give a message of peace,” he added.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy condemned the clashes while Shiv Sena MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil urged the Centre to speak with the Maharashtra government on the situation.

Raosaheb Patil Danve of BJP said the celebrations in Bhima-Koregaon had been taking place every year and no incident happened in the past.

The Speaker then proceeded to take up legislative business but Congress members protested demanding a statement from Modi.

As the Congress members trooped near the Speaker’s podium shouting slogans, the Speaker adjourned the House for around 10 minutes.

Hundreds of thousands of Dalits had congregated around the Victory Pillar (Vijay Stambh) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village in Maharashtra when stone-pelting began, allegedly by some rightwing groups carrying saffron flags.

In the clashes, more than 30 vehicles were torched or damaged. A young man was killed.