New Delhi: The CPI-M has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack his ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, saying they are to blame for the suicide of a Dalit student in Hyderabad.
An editorial in the CPI-M journal 'People's Democracy' also said that P. Appa Rao, vice chancellor of the Hyderabad University, should also be dismissed for the January 17 suicide by Rohith Vemula.
"The vice chancellor has to be removed forthwith. Both he and Dattatreya must be charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and for abetment of suicide," it said.
"The continuance of Dattatreya and Irani as ministers in the union cabinet is untenable.
"The prime minister should realise that if his government has to salvage some of the moral authority it has lost, they have to go," said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) journal.
The editorial said there were times when a single incident can shatter the moral authority of a government. The death of Vemula, a research scholar, "who was driven to commit suicide is one such", it said.
Vemula, 26, and four other Dalit students were suspended from the university at the instance of Minister of State for Labour Dattatreya, who is also the MP from Secunderabad.
"Though an earlier enquiry had concluded that there was no need for action to be taken against the Dalit students belonging to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), it was Dattatreya's letter to HRD minister Smriti Irani that the Hyderabad University had become a den for 'casteist, extremist and anti-national politics' that led the vice chancellor to suspend the five students.
"The HRD ministry wrote four letters to the university authorities asking what steps were being taken on the letter sent by Dattatreya.
"Hence the action of prohibiting Vemula and four others from the use of the hostel and other facilities, which culminated in his committing suicide, can be directly attributable to the role played by Dattatreya and Irani."