Herald View: Congress must do what is right
For right is right and wrong is wrong. And doing the right thing can never be wrong.
Rahul Gandhi has for long been privately seeking the next big idea that would define the Congress in the current century. He had asked party workers and advisors to brain storm about the issue and come up with suggestions that would go down to the masses. The idea was staring the nation in the face for years, but unfortunately neither the Congress nor the rest of us Indians realised its significance. The idea can be defined in just two words – social justice. It has taken the denial of justice to minorities, other backward classes and Dalits for eight years by the BJP and RSS for us to realise that large sections of Indians continue to be oppressed, suppressed and depressed with no means of seeking relief, justice or even legal remedies. Social Justice should in no way be confused with reservations alone. The Narendra Modi government has already offered a ten percent reservation for ‘economically weaker’ upper castes. But it needs to be emphasised that the poor Brahmin in the village is still better off than the poor Dalit and has better access to social justice that even the relatively well-off backwards and minorities struggle to attain. Admittedly, reservation in education and jobs is a major means of securing social justice through empowerment. However, social barriers and prejudices continue to prevail. Dalit professors at leading universities have spoken about how, while they have similar pay and are provided housing on par with upper castes on campuses, they are still not invited to homes of these so-called socially superior people to break bread or interact. The Congress’s NYAY scheme was designed to provide relief from distress to the masses but this would have assuaged only hunger, not social deprivation. Admittedly, social justice is of little consequence if people are dying of hunger but full stomachs are no guarantee against slavery, discrimination, moral deprivation or even the ability to meet social superiors on equal terms.
When the Mandal Commission report on reservations for OBCs was implemented in 1990 by the VP Singh government, there was a lot of political chicanery rather than genuine concern for the masses involved in that decision. Singh’s government was flailing and seeking a firm toe-hold on the Indian political firmament. But his Mandal politics led to the politics of the Kamandal and today the nation is paying a huge price in terms of social and communal disharmony. However, the RSS which at the time reacted instinctively with the Mandir-Masjid narrative, soon caught on to the fact that there were large sections of the population in the country without whose support their Hindutva politics could make little progress. In the intervening years they have made a conscious effort to appropriate OBCs and sections of Dalits to their Hindutva cause. But the nature of the RSS is such that they are still unable to offer full social justice to these masses - they would wish to appropriate them but still keep them at least one rung below on the social ladder.The Congress seems to have finally seen through this perfidy of the RSS and resolved at its Udaipur convention to provide social justice to every section of society. The details are awaited but it is high time that the Congress stopped walking on eggshells around the RSS for political reasons and do what it does best – listen to its conscience. And never fear to do what is right. For right is right and wrong is wrong. And doing the right thing can never be wrong.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)