WILL THE RESER­VA­TION WA­GER BY MODI PAY OFF IN LOK SABHA POLLS?

Mint ST - - POLICY -

SHASHI SHEKHAR

was or­ga­nized in Ay­o­d­hya un­der the lead­er­ship of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, it was asked loud and clear why the is­sue of Ram tem­ple was be­ing taken up after four years of the ten­ure of the rul­ing gov­ern­ment have passed. Had the rul­ing party and its al­lies been so se­ri­ous and con­cerned about this is­sue, they should have taken some mean­ing­ful ac­tion right in the be­gin­ning. This is­sue, which has emerged strongly in tele­vi­sion de­bates, con­tin­ued to hound the BJP dur­ing the assem­bly elec­tions in five states. The re­sult is be­fore us. The saf­fron party had to lose three states. Will the reser­va­tion bet by Modi also meet the same fate?

Be­fore reach­ing any con­clu­sion, we should keep in mind that the Ram Jan­mab­hoomi is­sue is decades old. Re­li­gion can be sanatana (eter­nal), but the con­tro­ver­sies emerg­ing or cul­ti­vated from it can­not be stretched for long.

Once the del­i­cate thread of faith is snapped, it can’t be mended en­tirely, how­ever hard we may try. On the con­trary, the is­sue of reser­va­tion is di­rectly re­lated to our liveli­hood. For the last 70 years, a large sec­tion of the so­ci­ety has been liv­ing with the feel­ing of be­ing de­prived of the present sys­tem of reser­va­tion. If this feel­ing of hurt can be mit­i­gated a lit­tle by this de­ci­sion, then the gov­ern­ment and the rul­ing party can ben­e­fit a lit­tle. If the op­po­si­tion wants to un­der­mine the BJP’S gains, then it will have to present its case be­fore the peo­ple in­tensely and with gen­uine ar­gu­ments. Do they have pop­ulist ar­gu­ments for this is­sue?

Here is a cru­cial ques­tion. It has been al­most 70 years since reser­va­tion was im­ple­mented in the coun­try. In all these years, In­dia has gone through many phases of so­cial and eco­nomic changes. This is the time to re­con­sider this sys­tem (of reser­va­tion), too. Are we not cre­at­ing a new sec­tion of the de­prived along with the up­lift­ment of the op­pressed classes? If it is so, then how far is it ap­pro­pri­ate to lay the foun­da­tion of a new im­bal­ance in the so­ci­ety in the name of so­cial equal­ity?

The peo­ple who point out the flaws of the reser­va­tion sys­tem al­lege that par­ties have al­ways kept their po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests in mind while im­ple­ment­ing it. But is­sues like ed­u­ca­tion, health and wel­fare of de­prived peo­ple have been side­lined. We have been a fail­ure in cre­at­ing an econ­omy which could make peo­ple eco­nom­i­cally self-de­pen­dent. Though some peo­ple did get gov­ern­ment jobs, the road to progress and wel­fare of all be­came in­creas­ingly nar­rower. Had our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers reached a con­sen­sus on this is­sue dur­ing the elec­tion year, it would have been much bet­ter and fruit­ful. But they have cho­sen to con­tinue with their age-old ways.

Times have changed, when will our lead­ers change? Shashi Shekhar is ed­i­tor-in-chief, Hin­dus­tan. His Twit­ter han­dle is @shekarkahin

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