Opposition leaders Mayawati and Rahul Gandhi criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Madhya Pradesh on Monday, days after reports showed that candidates appearing for the police constable’s post were labelled with their castes on their chests during a medical examination in Dhar district.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP leaders on the matter. Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused the saffron party of attacking the country’s constitution by allowing this to happen.

Mayawati said: “This is the new and fresh example of the BJP government’s new-found love for Dalits for their political gains.” She demanded that the accused be penalised and that the Centre introduce strict deterrents to prevent such incidents.

The Congress president vowed to defeat the BJP’s ideology, which “allows people to tie brooms on the bodies of Dalits and stop them from entering temples”.

On April 28, photos showing candidates bare-chested with markings such as “SC”, “ST” and “O” – Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes – in black on their bodies had emerged in the media.

Birendra Singh, the superintendent of police of Dhar, had condemned the incident and called it “deplorable”. “I have directed an investigation into the matter so that we can prosecute the ones responsible at the earliest,” he said, adding that examinations officials “must have done it for convenience because the number of constables was high”.

Director General of Police Rishi Kumar Shukla had said candidates should not have been labelled in such a manner. However, he added that there was no bad intention behind the move.