NEW DELHI: Dalit BJP MP Udit Raj today attacked Congress for targeting the NDA government for suicide by Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula, saying eight other Dalit students had ended their lives prior to that during the UPA tenure but nothing was done during that period.
Udit Raj, an alumnus of JNU, contended in Lok Sabha that Dalit students have been committing suicide because of "discrimination" on the campus due to "misuse" of budgeted grants.
"There was an uproar in the country following the death of Rohith Vemula. The secularist forces made widespread noise and tried to put the blame on us (NDA government). But they did not say about what they (UPA) were doing when eight other students committed suicide before Vemula," he said, adding "When those eight Dalit students committed suicide, was our government in power?"
Udit Raj, who is also the Chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations, said that the then Congress-led government should have taken steps to stop student suicide.
"When one, two, three students commited suicide, it (the trend) could have been stopped if the government had taken steps," he said.
26-year-old Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at the Central University’s hostel room on January 17.
He was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on an ABVP student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel. The suspension was revoked later.
Udit Raj said similar incidents are witnessed in JNU, AIIMS and other colleges, "If the funds allocated in Budget were utilised properly then such discrimination against dalit or backward students on the campus would not have come to such a pass," he said.
He said years after years the funds or grants did not reach the students and the unused funds were shown as capital expenditure at the end of the fiscal.
"Vemula committed suicide as he was not getting scholarship. Whatever funds were allocated in Budget it was not used properly," Raj said as he suggested that Parliament should discuss the JNU and HCU incidents.