Reserved or wait-listed? Why RSS wants ‘review’ of quota policy

Caste-based reservations have been resisted bitterly by the RSS in the past, as they acknowledge social discrimination as coded into the Indian social system and it allows for more than one identity to flower.

Written by Seema Chishti | Updated: October 7, 2016 5:03 pm
Mohan Bhagwat, Patel quota protest, Patidar quota protest, RSS, Hardik Patel, gujarat quota protest, gujarat reservation protest, india news, nation news RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

It was with considerable shock and awe that long time watchers – both, critics and admirers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – heard the Sarsanghchalak say at a book release on September 8, 2014, “We support reservation. Till the time there is inequality in the society, reservation is needed.”

This goes against the grain of what have been core RSS principles and objectives.

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Now, with Mohan Bhagwat, head of the RSS calling for a “review” of the reservation policy, in the latest Panchajanya magazine issue – and restating old RSS positions, what has changed for the Sangh between the two Septembers? Perhaps Bhagwat should follow his advice to other people: not use the quota policy for “political purposes”.

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In the first flush of the Modi government coming to power in 2014 with a very impressive performance – emerging as the unquestioned political formation in north India – there was a sense of the ‘end of history’ moment which was reflected in the RSS wanting to firmly entrench itself in the system.

Critics say this form of RSS-Hinduism, is a political project. This, like other such movements around the world, takes a narrow identity to mean ‘nationality’. Caste-based reservations have been resisted bitterly by the RSS in the past, as they acknowledge social discrimination as coded into the Indian social system and it allows for more than one identity to flower.

Alarmed by the way the Mandal movement in the 1980s damaged its push in the Hindi heartland, there was a bid to co-opt the so-called lower castes and tribals into its fold. Getting them to accept a RSS-view of a mostly upper-caste framework of One India and pit them against the Muslims and Christians had been the objective and the assessment in September 2014. It seemed that it could be successful if a face was put up of ‘tolerating’ reservation for those who are entitled to it.

Now, as the Patidar unrest on reservation continues to simmer in Gujarat, the local administration have found it necessary to disable the internet for law and order has been threatened and economic recession and unemployment give the impression of a Gujarat that is unraveling.

When the most loyal of the powerful and landed groups, the Patels feel economically embattled and are hitting out at reservation for the OBCs, it has become imperative for the RSS to remind its core base what it originally stood for and to ensure that the Patels do not end up exiting the parivar fold.

Over the past 40 years, there were at least two instances which proved to be politically momentous: in 1974 when the nav-nirman agitation provided the anti-Congress forces a pivot and then in the mid-1980s when again, the anti-reservation movement turned the tide for the Sangh Parivar forces. If the Patel agitation is allowed to continue without comment, the unintended consequence can be the game turning against the BJP which has kept an iron grip on the state for almost two decades. Mohan Bhagwat understands that. He does not want to let the Patels forget what the RSS and its affiliates in politics actually stand for.

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  1. B
    Bishwajit Dutta
    Jul 22, 2016 at 9:24 am
    Overpotion is the main problem of India and fight over jobs, resources between communities and majority crimes by individuals are because of this. Technological advancements will lead mive loss of jobs.
    1. R
      Ram Reddy
      Sep 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm
      Proud to be RSS supporter Jai sree ram
      1. L
        Liju R
        Sep 21, 2015 at 7:03 pm
        Reservations were only in service for SC/ST which was just 15 % for 10 years but it got extended for political gain. Reservation policy was brought by BJP during the regime of PM Morarjee Desai and later which was implemented by PM VP Singh. His government was having BJP support and due to which this law came into force. Today if we have many undeserving people in system is not because of congress. It's only due to BJP. BJP will never be forgived for such mistakes. Let me be honest even after 70 years reservations have not benefited to which it was implemented. Rather it have harmed society wherein in undeserving person becomes decision maker. Can you allow the person to conduct your operation who don't even qualify for compunder or ward by. He/She is jut a doctor because of his/her caste. It's very unfortunate
        1. A
          Sep 22, 2015 at 8:10 am
          end reservation
          1. A
            Sep 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm
            The quota system should be abolished
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