NEW DELHI: While Dalits are immolating themselves out of anguish and protest and there is a national outrage, the Prime Minister’s deafening silence shows his support to the criminal activities of the so-called gau raksha samitis: Brinda Karat (CPI(M)

Auron ki khansi/jukhaam per chichiyate hain, per gareeb/dalit ko maara peeta ja raha hai us per lambi chuppi! Inhi ki to shah nahin? (He shouts at mere cough and cold of others, but keeps mum for long when the poor and Dalits are beaten up... are the incidents taking place at his instigation): Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD)

PM Modi's continued silence on dalit attacks proves that these attacks are taking place with active support from top BJP leadership: Arvind Kejriwal (AAP)

How can you shut your eyes when your fellow countrymen are being treated with such brutality and cruelty: Amarinder Singh (Congress)

The Opposition attack on the Prime Minister is sharpening in the face of his complete silence on the massive protests in his home state Gujarat by Dalits after four of a family were stripped and thrashed in public by members of the local Gau Raksha Samiti. Over 22 Dalits have since attempted suicide with the protests spreading across Gujarat with the police and state authorities hard pressed to contain the spontaneous agitation that comes even as the government is trying to cope with the anger and protests in Kashmir.

As the Opposition members clearly state, the impression that in the Prime Minister’s silence lies protection for the Gau Raksha Samitis that are seen to be offshoots of the RSS is gaining ground. As his two year trajectory indicates the Prime Minister’s silence is often more eloquent than his words, and is seen to indicate his reluctance to directly speak on issues largely connected with the political agenda of the RSS and BJP on the ground.

Dalit scholars insist that the RSS/BJP is not as concerned about the Dalit vote as the media insists, although there is reportedly deep dismay about the turn of events amongst the couple of Dalit leaders in the party now. New Minister Ramdas Athawale said, “Gau raksha jaruri hai (cow protection is necessary) but who will save humans.” He said that incidents such as the one in Gujarat should not be allowed to recur. This has come just as Athawale was readying to campaign for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to cut into the Dalit support for BSP leader Mayawati.

Interestingly, after the protests began in Gujarat PM Modi addressed a public meeting in Gorakhpur but did not say a word about the unrest. This despite a tweet earlier that day from RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav hoping that the PM would break his silence in Gorakhpur.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has just written urging the PM to speak out. BJP leaders in UP are worried about the adverse impact on the Dalit vote that the party feels will impact on its prospects in the forthcoming polls. A consolidation of the upper caste vote in UP, however, is what the BJP is now hoping for with a sizeable cut into the OBC vote being the icing on the cake as it were, according to some.

However, politically speaking opposition leaders have no convincing explanation for the PMs silence on this all important issue. Nor does the BJP. The conjecture travels from ‘he is arrogant’ argument to the political fall out of the BJP governments seeming indifference to the issue. PM Modi’s silence has also ensured the silence of most others in government, with the Ministers reluctant to speak out without a clear cut directive. In the process, except for some gestures from the Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel that have been largely dismissed by the agitating Dalits, there is little by way of conciliatory measures from the top.

“It is as if nothing is happening,” Opposition leaders said with Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewal saying all were pained at the PMs silence on the Dalits. As to why he was silent? It is clear, he does not care, said Surjewala summing up the Opposition---and a section of the BJP--- view.