A senior BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh on Wendesday stoked a major row by making derogatory remarks against BSP Chief Mayawati that drew severe condemnation from parties while an embarrassed BJP expressed regret but furore over the issue forced adjournment of Rajya Sabha for the day.
"Mayawati is breaking the dream of Kanshi Ram into pieces. Mayawati is selling tickets like...," BJP Vice President Dayashankar Singh told reporters in Mau.
"Mayawati gives tickets for Rs 1 crore and if there is someone who can give Rs 2 crore than she sells it for Rs 2 crore within an hour. If someone is ready to give Rs 3 crore by the evening, she gives the ticket to him," Singh alleged.
"She is even worse than.... The BSP workers, who are in BSP since Kanshi Ram's days are deserting the party," said Singh, who was in Mau for the first time after becoming party vice president to meet party workers this morning.
Singh's remarks drew severe flak from members in the Rajya Sabha, including women MPs, with Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien saying that the House wants the government to ensure that stringent action is taken against the BJP leader, as per law, for his "unforgivable" comments.
There was all-round condemnation of Singh for his remarks by MPs including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, DMK's Kanimozhi, Congress' Kumari Selja and Renuka Chowdhury, TK Rangarajan of CPI(M) and Satish Chandra Mishra of BSP and demands were made for action against him.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley got up to offer regret on behalf of the party and said the remarks were highly condemnable.
"It is highly condemnable that a political leader uses such words against a prominent woman leaders. I regret the use of such words and will ensure that the matter is taken up by the concerned. I personally express regret to Mayawatiji and we are with you on the issue of protecting dignity," Jaitley said.
A visibly agitated Mayawati, who was present in the House, thanked Jaitley and all other members for their condemnation of Singh's remarks but demanded that BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah discuss the matter, expel Singh from the party and take action against him.
She said mere expression of regret will not suffice and added, "His (Singh's) remarks apply for his sister and daughter and not for me. The whole country will not forgive BJP... people will come on the streets."
Mayawati said the remarks by the BJP leader reflected the "capitalistic mindset" and asserted that never in her political career had she used any derogatory or personal remarks against her adversaries or questioned their character though there could be idealogical differences.
The BSP chief said she represented the most oppressed and exploited people of the country and had dedicated her whole life to them. She said the BSP always collected funds from the poor to carry forward the movement started by Kanshi Ram so that it does not have to rely on capitalists.
"On my birthday, I have told my supporters not to give me any expensive gifts like gold and jewelery but make economic contributions to the party," she said.
Mayawati attacked the BJP, saying it was jittery by BSP and its anti-dalit mindset has been exposed as it has still not sacked a minister who had compared dalits to dogs, an apparent reference to Minister of State V K Singh.
As the uproar over the issue continued, the Deputy Chairperson adjourned the House till Thursday.
BSP MP S.C. Mishra said that the party will carry forward the issue and take legal action against Singh for his utterances under the SC/ST Act as they do not expect the government to take any action in this regard. "We will drag him to court," he said outside Parliament.
Later in Ballia, Dayashankar Singh sought to do damage control saying it was a slip of tongue.
"Mayawati is a big leader and came from a small family. I did not want to hurt anyone. I regret the slip of tongue. I never meant to hurt the dignity of anyone," he said.