Durgapur (West Bengal): Union minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday accused West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in vote bank politics over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad and flayed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for remaining a "silent spectator" to atrocities on women.
"Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien had gone to Hyderabad to demand justice for the Dalit student. I want to ask him... in Nadia, a Trinamool leader had murdered three Dalits inside their home in May 2015... why didn't O'Brien visit their families?" said the minister for human resource development.
"Because for him, vote bank 'tamasha' in Hyderabad is more important than securing justice in Nadia," she said at a public rally organised by the BJP in Burdwan district's Durgapur, around 165 km from Kolkata.
Widespread protests have rocked India following the death of Vemula, who committed suicide on January 17 after his suspension along with four other Dalit students from Hyderabad University over an alleged clash with a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Last week, a two-member Trinamool parliamentary delegation, led by its leader in the Rajya Sabha O'Brien, spent a long time at the university campus and addressed the students demanding justice for Vemula.
Irani also slammed the Mamata Banerjee government on recent incidents of violence in the state.
"In Malda, a police station was burnt. Police watched the tamasha and Mamata did not say a word. Nobody said anything when the constitutional laws were being torn apart," she said, and also mentioned the sensational hit-and-run case in which an Indian Air Force corporal was mowed down in Kolkata.
Launching a scathing attack on the state government, she raised the issue of crimes against women.
"This assembly poll is not just a political fight but a fight for every brother who has seen his sister being sacrificed in the face of Trinamool's bad conduct. This is a fight for every sister when her modesty was outraged, the Trinamool was silently watching the show," she said, referring to the killing of 16-year-old student Rajib Das in Bengal's Barasat while trying to protect his sister from getting molested by drunken goons four years ago.
Mocking Banerjee's pet slogan of 'Maa, Maati, Manush' (Mother, Land and People), Irani said: "Nor did it (Trinamool) respect Maa, nor did it make the 'maati' productive nor did it manage to save its people."
On the chief minister announcing compensation to victims of violence against women, Irani pulled up the Trinamool supremo for "watching in silence as women's modesty was outraged".
"When a sister is molested, Trinamool puts a price on her modesty... Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000 ki baat karte hain."
"Ask a woman that if the Bengal government puts a price on you, then is it not your insult?"
Irani also questioned the Trinamool's promise of 'parivartan' (change in English).
"I want to ask how many daughters will the Trinamool government sacrifice and how much blood will it shed on the land (maati) on which it vowed to bring about a change.
She charged Trinamool with preventing an immersion in Bengal's Nadia district during the Durga puja for "appeasement", and exhorted her party workers in the district to "teach them a lesson".
Amid assertions that "Trinamool has no right to come to power again", Irani also dredged up the issue of illegal sand mining in Durgapur.
"If I ask anyone in Durgapur what is their biggest problem? They say illegal mining, mafia but the state government hasn't done anything. You are encouraging the mafia instead of stopping it," she alleged.