Home >Politics >Policy >Rohith Vemula’s suicide: the two politicians conspicuous by their silence
A file photo of Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu. Photo: Hindustan Times
A file photo of Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu. Photo: Hindustan Times

Rohith Vemula’s suicide: the two politicians conspicuous by their silence

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh CMs K. Chandrashekar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu have stayed away from the controversy around Rohith Vemula's suicide

Hyderabad: The suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula on the evening of 17 January in Hyderabad has spiralled into a major controversy, drawing condemnation from politicians across the country. But two leaders have been conspicuous by their silence.

K. Chandrashekar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, have stayed away from the controversy surrounding the suicide of Vemula, a second-year PhD student at University of Hyderabad (UoH). Hyderabad is the joint capital of the two states until 2024.

The two chief ministers have found no time to call on Vemula’s grieving family or meet protesting students.

Rao, who at the height of the Telangana statehood agitation had promised to make a Dalit the first chief minister of Telangana state, was noticeably absent at the university premises where students have been staging protests.

Naidu couldn’t take time off his schedule to visit the varsity before he took an early Tuesday morning flight to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos.

While Naidu was busy enticing investors in Switzerland, Rao was receiving representations from executives of state-run companies and Telugu film star, N. Balakrishna. In between his hectic schedule, Rao found time to pay homage to former Sikkim governor V. Rama Rao, who died of a prolonged illness in Hyderabad.

Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is a partner of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that is ruling at the centre.

Vemula’s family hails from Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, though his mother stays in the Uppal suburb of Hyderabad.

It is not just the ruling parties. Even opposition leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy took time to react.

After waiting the entire day on Monday, Reddy’s public relations team issued a condolence statement on Tuesday morning, a few hours before he met Vemula’s family. By that time, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had flown in from Delhi to meet the protesting students.

It was only after Reddy’s visit that Naidu’s team woke up to the crisis that has spread across the country. Naidu’s public relations team issued a brief condolence message at 10.30pm on Tuesday—48 hours after the death.

The Twitter feeds of the Telangana chief minister’s office (CMO) and the Andhra Pradesh CMO do not have a word of condolence on the student’s death.

In a world of opportunistic politics, the apathetic attitude of the local leaders is, surprisingly in contrast with the aggressive postures adopted by leaders of political parties such as the Congress (Rahul Gandhi), CPI-M (Sitaram Yechury), Aam Aadmi Party (Arvind Kejriwal), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (Asaduddin Owaisi) and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas Paswan).

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vemula’s death has snowballed into a major political controversy involving labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya and human resource minister Smriti Irani. The university has turned into a battleground for political parties to take potshots at the ruling alliance’s politics.

Delhi chief minister Kejriwal is set to visit the university on Thursday, according to a Hindustan Times report.

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