Longtime politician from India’s ‘untouchable’ caste resigns after being silenced in parliament


Mayawati Kumari, the national president of India’s Bahujan Samaj Party, has resigned from her parliamentary seat in protest after upper house lawmakers refused to let her finish a speech condemning alleged abuses against Dalits, a group known to many as “untouchables,” who make up the lowest caste in India.

Mayawati, who is herself a Dalit and is referred to as “Behenji,” or sister, by millions of Dalit supporters, became the first low-caste chief minister to head any of India’s state governments when she became chief minister in Uttar Pradesh in 1995. In so doing, Mayawati, who was 39 years old and unmarried at the time of her election, also became the youngest chief minister in the region’s history.

Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday about reported caste-related violence in the town of Saharanpur, Mayawati found herself being silenced by the deputy chairperson of the Indian parliament, P.J. Kurien, after she exceeded a three-minute allotment for impromptu speeches, according to The Hindu. Outraged, Mayawati insisted that she would abandon her seat if she was “not allowed to speak on atrocities against Dalits,” The Hindu reported. After finding Kurien unmoved, she stormed out of the parliament while some opposition party members followed after her in a show of support, according to the BBC. Soon after leaving the parliament, Mayawati followed through on her word and tendered her resignation.

Read the full story at TIME magazine.


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