Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 January was ‘in pain’ when he said how mother India had ‘lost a son’ in Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide after being expelled by Hyderabad university allegedly at the behest of Union HRD ministry.
Little over a month later Modi’s motormouth junior cabinet minister, General (Retd) VK Singh, publicly disagreed with the prime minister by implying that Rohith was an anti-national.
He told a convention organised by the BJP’s youth wing Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha, Singh questioned the JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s statement calling Rohith his icon.
He said, “I read in newspapers today that a JNU student leader says that he does not draw inspiration from Afzal Guru but Rohith Vemula. I told myself that Rohith Vemula too had organised a meeting for Yakub Memon. Are we with those people who encourage terrorism and who abuse India?”
The latest statement by Singh, who was the former army chief, is bound to cause embarrassment to Modi.
Critics feel that Modi’s silence will cause considerable damage to his credibility as it may been deemed as his approval to what the formal general has said.
There were already many who had appeared reluctant to take Modi’s condolences for Rohith seriously. His refusal to contradict Singh’s statement on the deceased Dalit research scholar will give more credence to that suspicion.