The death of a Dalit student in Rajasthan’s Jalore has led to infighting within the Congress as a section of party leaders has raised the pitch against Gehlot government in the state.
Twelve Congress councillors in the Baran Municipal Council sent their resignation letters to Ashok Gehlot, expressing anguish over atrocities against the Dalits and backing party MLA Pana Chand Meghwal.
The Baran-Atru MLA on Monday had sent his resignation letter to Gehlot, two days after the death of a nine-year-old Dalit boy who was allegedly beaten up by his schoolteacher for touching a drinking water pot in Jalore.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot, who has also rebelled against the Gehlot government in the past, made a veiled criticism of the state government and called for zero tolerance to the incident.
Pilot called for action against local officials for an alleged lathi-charge on the victim’s family. “We will have to instill confidence among Dalits that we stand with them. There is no other option. The government should work on the shortcomings to change the system,” he said after visiting the victim’s family.
Nine-year-old Indra Meghwal died Saturday, nearly three weeks after being allegedly beaten up by a teacher for touching a water pot used by the upper caste at his school in Surana village in Jalore district. The teacher, Chail Singh, has been arrested and the state’s Congress government is taking action against the private school as well. But it remains under flak over the incident.
Pilot, a former deputy chief minister who staged a rebellion against CM Gehlot in 2020, visited the family with a group of local leaders. “Such discrimination is taking place in our system even after 75 years of independence. This is a matter of self-introspection for all of us, he told reporters after the visit. His death raises several questions,” the Congress leader added.
The Rajasthan CM hit back at Pilot and said some leaders are instigating party workers by telling them they are not being treated with respect. “Some of our people, leaders instigate workers by telling them that they should be respected and honoured. It has become a ‘jumla’. Have you ever honoured and respected the workers? Do you even know what honour and respect is?,” the senior Congress leader said without taking any names. “We have become a leader from a worker by getting honour and respect,” he said.
The controversy comes as Rajasthan goes to polls next year and does not go well for the Congress that will be desperate to return to power in the state. The party has governments only in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, but in both the state, the party has seen leadership tussles.
With inputs from News18