In remarks reminiscent of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on the need to review the reservation policy, just ahead of the 2015 Bihar assembly polls, Sangh publicity head Manmohan Vaidya Friday quoted B R Ambedkar to underline that “it’s not good to have reservation forever” and “the need for it should be done away with as soon as possible” to “provide everyone with equal opportunity”. Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Vaidya also said that providing reservation to communities other than SCs and STs “seems a little like encouraging separatism”.
With five states going to assembly elections next month, the remarks drew sharp reactions from parties opposed to the BJP, including BSP chief Mayawati and the Congress which said “such calls are regularly made by BJP-RSS leaders before crucial elections to polarise voters and garner votes on caste lines”. Within hours, the RSS stepped in. Its joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, who was present at the festival session where Vaidya made the remarks, told reporters to refrain from “creating controversies like this as it could cause social unrest”.
“The RSS has always held the view that reservation, as has been provided for by the Constitution… all efforts should always be made to continue that reservation,” Hosabale said.
“The Indian Constitution provides for reservation to SC, ST and OBC. Since 1981, (when the) RSS had passed a resolution… there was a controversy back then about reservation and the RSS pratinidhi sabha had passed a resolution that for the categories mentioned in the Constitution, SC, ST and OBC… efforts should be made to implement it fully. Sangh has always maintained it,” he said.
Earlier, during the discussion, Vaidya said caste-based reservation in the context of SCs and STs was meant to address historical discrimination perpetrated by “us”.
“Aarakshan ka vishay Bharat mein ek SC/ST ke sandarbh mein aaya hai… hamare samaj ke bandhuon ko humne saikdo saal tak samman se, suvidhaon se, vanchit rakha hai… ye galat hua hai… iska paribhajan karne ki zimmedari hamari hai… ek vishesh jaati mein paida hone ka unko us se dur rakha gaya… ye theek nahin hai… isliye unko saath laane ke liye aarakshan ka praavdhaan samvidhaan mein aarambh se kiya gaya hai,” he said.
(The subject of reservation came to India in the context of SC/ST… for centuries, we denied the brothers of our community respect and benefits… this was wrong… it is our responsibility to correct this… they were kept away from these things for being born in a particular caste… this is not correct… therefore, the provision of reservation was included in the Constitution since the beginning to take them along.)
“Dr Ambedkarji ne kaha hai… kisi bhi rashtra mein hamesha ke liye ye aarakshan ka pravdhan rehna… ye achcha nahin hai… jald se jald iski avashyakta nirast ho kar sabko saman avsar dene ka samay aana chahiye… wo aarakshan ki sewa hai… baaki anya aarakshan ke badle mein sabko avsar adhik diye jayein, shiksha adhik di jaye… is tarah prayatna karna chahiye… iske aage aarakshan dena thoda algavvaad banana wali baat hai, aisa lagta hai,” he said.
(Dr Ambedkar has said, in any nation, it’s not good to have reservation forever. The need for it should be done away with as soon as possible and instead a time should come to provide everyone with equal opportunity… that’s the service of reservation. In other cases, efforts should be made to provide greater opportunities, more education to everyone instead of reservation… beyond this, providing reservation seems a little like encouraging separatism.”)
“So SC-ST ke pichda rehne ke peeche ek varshon se kiya hua anyay hai… aisa anya sthan par nahin hai… isliye uska upaay anya tarah se dhoondna adhik achcha rahega, aisa lagta hai,”he said.
(The reason for the backwardness of SC-ST has been years of injustice meted out to them… it is not so in other places… for that, searching some other solution will be better, it seems.)
Speaking on the idea of a Hindu rashtra, Hindutva and national identity, Vaidya said Hindutva had always believed in celebrating diversity and never talked about bringing about uniformity. He also questioned the inclusion of the word “secular” in the Constitution, pointing out that the Constituent Assembly deliberately kept the word out of the Constitution since it was “not an Indian word”.
“It has come from outside, to distinguish between theocracy and democracy… but in India, people have never been ruled on the basis of religion.” He wondered why and at whose behest the word was inserted in the Constitution, when there was no demand for it.
Reacting to Vaidya’s remarks, BSP chief Mayawati, in a statement, said the “anti-reservation statement of RSS is unfortunate and extremely deplorable”. She said “RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had tried to end this Constitutional provision in the garb of review of reservation” but the BSP “will never let this anti-Constitution perspective find success”.
The Congress too slammed Vaidya’s remarks. Party communication department head Randeep Surjewala said: “The Congress strongly condemns such conspiratorial agenda against India’s Dalits and poor to deny them the Constitutional guarantee of reservation. Such calls are regularly made by BJP-RSS leaders before crucial elections to polarise voters and garner votes on caste lines.”