Emphasising that quotas were not conceived as a permanent provision, Vaidya said, “It was for a particular time. At the same time, Dr Ambedkar had said that such reservation to remain forever is not good for any nation. He also said that the need for it should end as soon as possible, and everyone should be given an equal opportunity.” – Saurabh Sharma
RSS on Friday found itself battling a controversy arising from a remark of its spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya that caste-based quotas were not supposed to be permanent.
Responding to a question at the Jaipur Literature Festival about RSS’s stand on quota for Muslims, Vaidya justified quotas for SCs and STs but, quoting B. R. Ambedkar, said they could be phased out once the conditions which led to their in production ceased to exist.” Concept of reservation for SCs and STs came in a different context. For thousands of years, we deprived some of our own people of facilities, respect and education. So, to bring them together, the provision of reservation was introduced in the Constitution from the beginning,” he said.
Emphasising that quotas were not conceived as a permanent provision, Vaidya said, “It was for a particular time. At the same time, Dr Ambedkar had said that such reservation to remain forever is not good for any nation. He (Ambedkar) also said that the need for it should end as soon as possible, and everyone should be given an equal opportunity.”
Vaidya’s senior colleague, RSS’s joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale who was participating in the same session ‘Of Saffron and the Sangh’ at the festival, emphasised the Sangh’s support for caste-based quota. ”Reservation is based on caste. For historical and social reasons of this country, caste-based reservation is a necessity. This is the view of RSS.” Opponents, from Congress to AAP to RJD, swiftly pounced upon the comment to dub RSS as well as BJP as anti-quota and anti-Dalit, in what was reminiscent of the row RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat sparked in 2015 by urging a review of whether reservations had served the intended objective.
Just like in the previous instance when Bhagwat made the comment in the run-up to the Bihar polls, Vaidya’s remarks came when the crucial battle for five states is underway.
But as opponents scrambled to cite Vaidya’s remarks to question BJP’s commitment to caste-based quotas, the ruling party accused them of distorting the remarks deliberately for “political purpose”.
“Some people have mangled a comment, torn it out of context for their partisan purpose. This is completely deplorable,” Union minister Piyush Goyal said. Hosabale, who talked to reporters in Jaipur later, said, “There is no controversy , and one should not be created,” he said.
Clarifying later, Vaidya told TOI, “Reservation for SCs STs and weaker sections must continue. RSS extends full support to the provisions of quota as it will help to end social imbalance.” However, he said religion-based reservation had no historical background and may encourage separatism.” For others (religious minorities), efforts should be made to give more education and more opportunities to everyone. Giving reservation beyond this seems to be a thing that promotes alienation,” he said.
Congress reacted sharply to Vaidya’s remarks. “RSS-BJP’s anti-Dalit agenda exposed by Vaidya’s call to abolish reservation. Caste and communal division is their DNA,” party spokesman Randeep Surjewala tweeted.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said Brahmins controlled RSS and that reservation was provided for the targeted sections under the Constitution. He said it was not a “charity” bestowed on them by the Sangh Parivar fountainhead. “Modiji your RSS spokesman is again talking rubbish about reservation.We drubbed you (ragad, ragad ke dhoya) in Bihar, but probably more remains to be done which UP will,” the RJD boss said in a tweet in Hindi.
AAP said it won’t allow the “anti-Dalit” BJP and RSS to succeed in their “nefarious designs”. “The RSS BJP Akalis are anti-Dalits. We will not allow their nefarious designs to succeed,” Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
“The statement by RSS functionary is shameful. This is not the first example of RSS and the BJP being anti-Dalit.There is no proof required after state-sponsored murder of (Dalit scholar) Rohith Vemula (who committed suicide). We condemn this,” AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey said.
» Saurabh Sharma reports for Times of India.