Mayawati, chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party, angrily walked out of the Rajya Sabha today declaring she would quit if she was not allowed to speak on what she called frequent attacks on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh. A senior leader of her party SC Mishra told NDTV that his boss has not handed out an empty threat. She is adamant that she will resign from the upper house of Parliament today, he said.
Soon after the Rajya Sabha convened this morning for the second day of the monsoon session, Mayawati, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, sought to speak, alleging that Dalits were being targeted in Saharanpur in the state, now ruled by the BJP. She was soon seen walking out in a rage.
Outside Parliament, Mayawati said she had been asked to limit her speech to three minutes. "If I am not allowed to speak right now, I will resign right away," said the furious BSP leader, who draws her core support from Dalits. She alleged that she had tried to visit Saharanpur to reach out to Dalit families, but her efforts were foiled. "All this is happening because the BJP is in power. I am supposed to get Z-plus security, but there was no such arrangement," Mayawati said.
As she walked out of Parliament, other opposition parties raised slogans and disrupted house, forcing an adjournment. The Congress too walked out after Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the BJP has a mandate to rule UP and alleged that the BSP chief was attempting to score political points and not speak for Dalits. Mr Naqvi also said Mayawati "must apologise" for being disrespectful and challenging the Chair.
"When Mayawati tried to talk, she was told that we have got the mandate. We did not know the BJP has got the mandate for massacre of minorities and Dalits. We are not with this government," said the Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Leaders of other Opposition parties have tried to persuade Mayawati to change her mind on resigning, but, Mr Mishra said, she is not ready to do so. Her term in the upper house ends in April next year and re-election will be a tough task, after the BJP swept the UP assembly elections in March this year winning more than 300 of the state's 403 seats.
Mayawati's party could win only 18 seats and the only way she can hope to return the Rajya Sabha, is with the support of the Congress and arch rival Samajwadi Party. Members of the upper house of parliament are elected by legislators of the state they represent.