Sharad Pawar-led NCP also asked Prime Minister's Office to probe incident, calling it 'shameful'.
New Delhi/Lucknow: The incident of police aspirants in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh having caste categories written on their bare chests sparked condemnation on Monday from the chiefs of the Congress and the BSP who alleged this reflected the "casteist attitude" of the saffron party.
Sharad Pawar-led NCP also asked the Prime Minister's Office(PMO) to probe the incident, calling it "shameful".
While Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP government of "knifing" the nation's heart with its "casteist attitude", BSP chief Mayawati alleged that the "criminal act" is the new and fresh example of BJP governments' "new found love" for Dalits for their political gains.
An inquiry has been ordered by police after photographs in various newspapers showed aspirants with "SC" (Scheduled Caste), "ST" (Scheduled Tribe) and "G" (General) marked with sketch pens on their chests as they queued up for their medical examination in Dhar district on Sunday, triggering a controversy.
Dhar Superintendent of Police Virendra Singh on Sunday told news agency PTI that he had ordered an inquiry by a deputy SP rank officer.
Singh had said those conducting the medical examination process had told police that the markings were made to tell apart candidates belonging to different categories as the physical requirements for each of these categories were different.
"However, they should have used other ways to differentiate. This is a serious matter," he said.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi put out a picture of two youths with the words ‘SC' and 'ST' written on their chests respectively. Slamming the BJP over the issue, Gandhi tweeted, “BJP government's casteist attitude has knifed the heart of the country. By writing SC/ST on the chest of youths in Madhya Pradesh, they have attacked the country's Constitution.”
“This is BJP/RSS thought. This same thought sometimes ties a vessel around the neck of Dalits, or a broom on their bodies, and stops them from entering a temple. We will defeat this thought,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Gandhi, however, did not specify if he was referring to the BJP-led government at the Centre or the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh.
Elections to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly are due later in 2018.
Lashing out at the BJP, BSP chief Mayawati claimed the incident was just a fresh example of the saffron party's new found love for Dalits. Mayawati also questioned the "silence" of top leaders including the prime minister on the issue.
"This is the new and fresh example of BJP governments' new found love for Dalits for their political gains," Mayawati said in a statement released in Lucknow.
The BSP chief, in her statement, asked why top BJP leaders had not condemned the incident.
"Does it suit the BJP and company, and the prime minister himself, to remain silent, (and) not to condemn such a casteist incident," she asked.
Mayawati demanded that the officials responsible for the incident be punished while the Centre needed to issue strict orders to check recurrence of such incidents anywhere in the country.
Calling the Dhar incident a "criminal act", Mayawati said it was because of the casteist and spiteful attitude towards the Dalits, Tribals and backwards that they were forced to convert as the Una case in Gujarat had shown. The BJP needs to realise that besides self-respect, Dalits are also vigilant towards their interests and will never fall into the trap of anyone's allurements, she said.
Those conducting the medical examination process had told police that the markings were made to differentiate candidates belonging to different categories as the physical requirements for each of these categories were different.
"It is extremely shameful that during police recruitment in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the candidates were marked as SC, OBC, ST on their chest," NCP MP Supriya Sule tweeted.
Describing the process as "insensitive", Sule said this act deserved strong condemnation.
"The PMO should probe the incident," she added.