Media’s Neglect Of Mayawati On #RohithVemula: For Them, Dalit Politics Is About “Vote Bank”

Atul Anand

On Monday, February 29, the National President of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Member of Parliament and ex-Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati had a meeting with the grieving family of the scholar Rohith Vemula. A press release in Hindi was issued in this regard by the Central Office of BSP, New Delhi.

Rohith’s family meets BSP Supremo Mayawati
Rohith’s family meets BSP Supremo Mayawati

The press release highlights the details of the meeting. During the meeting with Ms. Mayawati, Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula and his brother Raja Vemula told her in detail about how Rohith was tortured under the pressure by the two central government ministers and ultimately he was forced to commit suicide. They further told her about how the government, especially the HRD minister Smriti Irani, has been making false statements in both the Houses of the Parliament to mislead the people of the country. The press release says Radhika Vemula does not trust that the BJP ruled central government would ensure justice even after the death of her son. The press release also mentions that Rohith Vemula’s family expressed their gratitude toward BSP supremo who strongly demanded the Dalit representation in the Judicial Commission along with other demands, both within the House and outside.

According to the press release, the central government refused to accept that demand to have Dalit representation in the Judicial Commission, which clearly shows their evil intention. The press release further mentions that after such atrocities on Rohith Vemula, the central government would not even want to ensure an impartial inquiry in the case which “exposes their anti-Dalit mindset.”

Ms. Mayawati consoled the family and told them that the extremely depressing event, where Rohith Vemula was forced to commit suicide, has made the people of this country agitated. She said, “They are also part of the struggle along with other Dalits to get justice for Rohith Vemula and demand punishment for those who were responsible for the incident.” Ms. Mayawati has been vocal about Rohith’s issue. She has raised the issue of the Dalit representation in the Judicial Commission investigating Rohith’s death.

Dilip C Mandal, research scholar and ex-Managing Editor of India Today Hindi, commented on the “declining power of TV Channels and newspapers” which is evident in this case. On his social media account, he said that even when the TV channels and the newspapers did not carry the photograph of Ms. Mayawati with Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula, it reached millions of people through social media.

It is important to note that this press release by BSP went largely unnoticed by the media where only a couple of English and Hindi newspapers reported it. Even when the minuscule number of newspapers reported it, they did not forget to paint this issue as Ms. Mayawati eyeing “Dalit vote bank”. The photograph of the meeting which showed Ms. Mayawati with Radhika Vemula and Raja Vemula was nowhere to be found on the websites of these newspapers. The reporting on this meeting between Rohith’s family and Ms. Mayawati shows the brahminical nature of the media again.

Atul Anand is a writer, media researcher and practitioner, currently based in Goa.