PATNA: Union minister Smriti Irani was on Thursday shown black flags by members of an upper-caste outfit in Bihar’s Gopalganj, where she had come to address a programme of BJP’s youth wing.
Posters put up by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of BJP, in the western Bihar town to welcome Irani were also painted black by members of Savarn Sena, an upper-caste outfit. When the cavalcade of Irani, who is the Union textiles minister, reached the programme venue, the protesters shouted anti-BJP slogans.
At least five protesters were left injured in the clash that ensued when BJYM activists tried to drive them away. Police had a hard time clearing the road leading to the programme venue. Sources said some of the protesters were from National Students Union of India (NSUI), the students wing of Congress.
Speaking at the Yuva Sankalp Sammelan organised by BJYM, Irani lashed out at Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family. “Their much-hyped concerns for the nation’s poor have been proved half-hearted. The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done far more for the nation that the entire Congress rule,” she said.
Upper-caste communities in Bihar have been feeling restive ever since the central government restored the provision of immediate arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 following protests by Dalit organisations and parties. Sections of the upper-caste communities claim that the BJP-led NDA has betrayed them despite their overwhelming support to it. They have also been demanding reservation in government jobs.
Several BJP leaders have been shown black flags by members of the upper-caste outfit Savarn Sena in various towns of Bihar in recent weeks. They include Union Ministers Ashwini Choubey and Ram Kripal Yadav, Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, and two party MPs – Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai and Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari.
A lathi-charge by police on upper-caste protesters in Patna recently was criticised by senior BJP leader and former Union health minister CP Thakur.