Caste slur provoked Soondh, alleges Cong; SAD-BJP counters attackThe Dalit card was played to its hilt on the last day of the 14th Vidhan Sabha that ended today. If the Congress used the Dalit card as a shield to justify the action of Banga MLA Tarlochan Soondh, the Akali-BJP alliance fielded all its MLAs from the Dalit community to counter the attack.
The development has wider ramifications. As the realpolitik gathers momentum — in the run up to the Assembly elections — the issue is likely to be used by both Congress and the Akali Dal-BJP to woo the 32 per cent Dalit voters in the state.
Both sides seem to be preparing to use the incident to gain political mileage.
And the opportunity for doing so arrived today, when Soondh, who led the Congress brigade, hurled his shoe at Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Apparently, he had not anticipated the repercussions of his action. But when angry Treasury bench MLAs rose in unison against him, even challenging him from walking out of the Assembly, Soondh, rather than facing their wrath, was accosted by his party MLAs and held an impromptu press conference where he maintained that casteist remarks were made against him that prompted him to hurl the shoe.
Soondh accused Khemkaran MLAVirsa Singh Valtoha of using casteist remarks. “If I am ridiculed for being a Dalit, I had no choice but to hit Valtoha,” he said without being able to explain how the shoe ended up near Majithia since the seats of Valtoha and Majithia are in different directions.
On the other hand, Valtoha accompanied by Dalit MLAs from the ruling alliance claimed that no casteist remarks were used against Soondh. Pawan Kumar Tinu, Baljit Singh Jalalusman, Mohinder Kaur Josh, Nirmal Singh, Som Prakash, SR Kaler and Manjit Singh Mianwind, all stood by Valtoha and said had any casteist remark been used by anyone, they would have reacted immediately against the person.
Later, Soondh along with MLAs Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Kuljit Nagra and Hardyal Kamboj lodged a complaint against Valtoha to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes vice-chairman, Raj Kumar Verka.
The Akali-BJP Dalit MLAs too gave a complaint to the commission, accusing MLAs Randhawa, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Kuljit Nagra and Hardyal Kamboj of using casteist words against them as well as the Speaker in the House.