Mayawati: Top India Dalit Leader Quits Parliament

One of India's top female politicians and Dalit (formerly untouchable) icon has quit her parliamentary seat. Ms Mayawati, who uses one name, had earlier staged a walkout from the upper house after she was told to cut short a speech about violent caste clashes in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. "If I can't speak about our weaker sections in the House then I have no right to stay there," she said.

Ms Mayawati has been chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times. But she suffered what many analysts called a humiliating defeat in state polls held earlier this year. She is an icon to millions of Dalits, most of whom are poor.

Analysts say the resignation could well spell the end of her parliamentary career. She cannot seek re-election until her tenure ends in April next year and even then, they say, that she does not have the numbers to stage a comeback. On Tuesday, Ms Mayawati was attempting to speak about the recent caste violence in Saharanpur town in which two people were killed, when the deputy chairperson the upper house told her not to "monopolise" the discussion. She later said that she was "not being heard, not allowed to speak". 

Other opposition parties expressed support when she walked out, and many followed her out of the house.