'Will Quit If BJP Can Prove I Am Anti-Dalit,' Says Congress' Jyotiraditya Scindia

NEW DELHI: Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has offered to resign from parliament if allegations of being "anti- Dalit" are proved against him, demanding an unconditional public apology from two BJP lawmakers for their comments against him in the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Mr Scindia, who is the Congress MP from Guna in Madhya Pradesh, has moved a privilege motion against the BJP lawmakers, Virender Kumar and Manohar Utwal, for what he has alleged are defamatory statements and has challenged them "to prove their claims." Yesterday, he had served a legal notice to the BJP's Madhya Pradesh chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan.

The BJP has alleged that earlier this week, a hospital building was "washed with Gangajal or holy water from the Ganga river" before Mr Scindia visited it to inaugurate a new trauma centre, because a Dalit BJP leader had visited it the previous day. They base the allegation on a local Congress leader Amit Tawre's comment that the trauma centre would be "purified" before Jyotiraditya Scindia, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Gwalior, visited.

"I have nothing to do with the statement of the Congress worker nor did the purported washing of the site with Gangajal ever happen. The BJP's rhetoric is a heinous attempt to malign my reputation and dignity in the House as well as with millions of people who watch Lok Sabha on television," Mr Scindia has written in a letter to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, adding, "Reputations take years to build but can be destroyed in seconds."

In the Lok Sabha, an agitated Mr Scindia said, "They are trying to destroy my reputation built over 15 years with hard work for every community. I will resign from this house if they can prove that I have said or done anything. But if they cannot prove their allegations, then they must resign from Parliament."

Mr Tawre has since been thrown out of the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh, BJP workers have burned effigies of Mr Scindia, staging protests and calling him "anti-Dalit."

"I look to you to allow me an opportunity to clear my name and defend myself against those who have maligned my reputation," Mr Scindia has said, demanding strict action against the BJP lawmakers.
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