Ghosts of Bihar election: Mayawati makes the most of RSS’ anti-reservation remarks in Uttar Pradesh elections

The party faced similar trouble in Bihar last year during the state Assembly elections, when anti-reservation comments by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat ticked off millions of pro-reservation voters, ultimately adding to the party’s defeat in the election.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Updated: February 16, 2017 11:51 am
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Bharatiya Janata Party may end up regretting Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya’s anti-reservation remarks just before Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

The party faced similar trouble in Bihar last year during the state Assembly elections, when anti-reservation comments by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat ticked off millions of pro-reservation voters, ultimately adding to the party’s defeat in the election.

Vaidya stated at the Jaipur Literary Festival that “reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes were introduced in the Constitution to remedy the historical injustice done to them. But, even Ambedkar did not advocate for its (reservation) indefinite continuance. There should be a time limit to it.”

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The comments have given ammunition to opponents like Mayawati to target the BJP–a political offshoot of the RSS–and brand it anti-Dalit and anti-reservation. Mayawati has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and stated in her election rally recently: “Remember RSS and BJP are two sides of the same coin and if an anti-reservation statement has been issued by an RSS leader, it cannot be without consensus with prime minister Modi. Please do not get carried away with the promises made by him.”

Reservations and its review have been a controversial and divisive topic. While Mayawati has led her political campaigns historically centred around caste. Dalit empowerment and reservation, BJP has historically been branded as an anti-reservation party. Remarks from RSS leadership fuel these arguments adding to the party’s woes.

Mayawati has continued her offensive branding the BJP as a communal party that is bent on unleashing communal backlash and wants to do away with reservation. Reports had said that according to BJP’s final assessment of the Bihar elections, Bhagwat’s comments were the tipping point in the election. This may repeat if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah don’t make immediate amends.

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