Congress today accused the RSS and certain Hindutva outfits of triggering violence against Dalits in Maharashtra and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the clashes while targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" over it.
Forcefully raising the issue in Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the latest wave of violence against Dalits in several parts of Maharashtra was continuation of similar incidents witnessed in other BJP ruled states including Gujarat.
"The RSS and certain hardcore Hindutva outfits are behind the violence. They are trying to drive a wedge between the Marathas and Dalits in Maharashtra," Kharge alleged.
A visibly anguished Kharge also tore some papers he was holding when BJP members vociferously protested his remarks and continued to shout.
"Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on the issue?
He always maintaince silence on issues relating to Dalits. He has become a 'Mouni Baba' on Dalit issues," he said.
Kharge's comments triggered angry response from BJP MPs, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar rebutting the charges and accusing the Congress of trying to play politics over the issue.
"Congress wants to politicise the issue. The party suffered electoral drubbing in so many states in the recent past and that is why they want to milk political mileage over the issue," Kumar alleged.
The minister's response infuriated the Congress members who trooped into the Well of the House and shouted slogans like 'stop humiliating Babasaheb Ambedkar', 'stop dividing the country' and 'PM speak up'.
"Similar violence against Dalits have been witnessed in so many states including in Gujarat and Maharastra. Wherever BJP is in power, such violence against Dalits takes place,"
He also urged the Speaker to ask Modi to make a statement in the House on the violence in Maharashtra.
Kharge also alleged that "some fascist forces always want to keep the Dalits in lowest strata of the society", adding that the community was being subjected to harassment across the country.
Maharashtra remained on edge after the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune brought to fore simmering caste tensions which engulfed several other areas in the state.
Earlier, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would allow the members to speak on the issue but urged them to ensure that their comments do not vitiate the situation in the affected areas.
"We are representatives of the people. We have to protect the country. We will have to find solutions to various challenges unitedly. The challenges facing the country cannot be resolved through allegations and counter-allegations," she said.