Is Abrogation of Reservation on the Cards?

Through the Modi government, the RSS has successfully implemented many of aspects of its long term agenda.

Though the RSS has been an anti-reservation organisation, it plays a game of hide and seek with those in power at the Centre. While top leaders of the RSS issue statements opposing reservation, a smaller leader in the BJP or the National Democratic Alliance says that the government supports reservations.

Mohan Bhagwat has repeated his opposition to reservations several times. The latest statement, on August 19, said that the question of reservation must be debated. The RSS chief said “that there should be open-hearted debate pertaining to reservation given to SC/ST/OBCs”.

Through the Narendra Modi government, the RSS is implementing its long term agendas. By forcing the state governments to make cow protection laws, it has destabilised the economy of the Shudra farmers who graze the cattle and the food economy of the Dalits/Adivasis and Muslims.

Also Read: Why Reservations Have to be About Social and Not Just Economic Disadvantage

The law to criminalise Triple Talaq and the reading down of Article 370 are also part of the RSS’s agenda. The other major issues of its long term agenda are building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the abrogation of reservation. The RSS will take steps toward that in the near future.

The same Modi who galvanised the OBC votes will be forced to legislate a Reservation Abrogation Act. That day is not too far. The anti-reservation intellectuals affiliated with the Congress will fully support such a law. Some like Manish Tiwari and Janardan Dwivedi have already stated their views on reservation. Many so-called secular intellectuals are also anti-reservationist in the name of “merit”.

No light weight to be dismissed

Bhagwat is not a light weight to be dismissed. He has significant influences among the BJP-RSS networks. He is like Kautilya to Chandragupta Maurya. Maurya was the son of Mura, a historical Shudra/OBC woman. Kautilya’s influence ensured that Chandragupta institutionalised the caste system.

The RSS has never asked for debate on the caste system or the anti-science and anti-human character of our institutions. It asked for a debate on Vedas, Ramayan, Mahabharat, where there are no rights for the Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis.

In his public utterances, Bhagwat never speaks about the human equality even within the Hindu religion. He has not spoken out against human untouchability or that it should be abolished within the Hindu religion. He does not raise the issue of priesthood rights to Shudras, OBCs, Dalit andAdivasis within the Hindu religion. He never makes a public statement that women should get equal rights along with men in Hinduism. He does not call for a debate on uniform school education to all children of all classes and castes in rural and urban areas. We know that English being the medium of education in private sector and regional languages in government schools is creating a huge gap in opportunities.

Also Read: In Andhra Village, Ten Generations of Dalit Priests Offer a Lesson on Social Harmony

Bhagwat is an open advocate for abrogation of certain rights people achieved through their historical struggles.

He never makes a statement about abolition of the caste system, about dismantling Brahminical hegemony, both in Hinduism and outside. He does not talk about increasing the wages of agrarian labourers, who mainly are Dalits and OBCs. But he repeatedly wants a “serious discussion” about reservation, obviously not to strengthen it, but to abrogate them.

The RSS is keen on ending reservations. Credit: Shome Basu

A silent prime minister

Whenever he issues a major statement reservations, Prime Minister Modi remains silent. His silence is nothing but the acceptance of the guru’s dictum. The SCs, STs and OBCs within the organisation work as muscle power and are conditioned not to oppose the ultimate guru’s orders. They are told that the RSS does everything in the interest of the nation. Nation’s interest is above the interests of different sections.

Dalit, OBC and Adivasis are only sections. The Brahminical meritwalas are the nation. After all, that has been the historical Hindu order and it should not be disturbed. For the SC, ST and OBCs within the Sangh, the “minority enemy” is more important than the equal rights of all castes, communities and women.

The OBC prime minister is no different; after all he is a karyakarta of the RSS. If a Bill to abrogate reservation comes up, he will have to work to get it passed. And there are enough members in the opposition parties to cross the floor and vote for it.

The Shudra, OBC and Dalit regional political formations have no energy to stop Bhagwat’s juggernaut. During the past five years, under the so-called most powerful prime minister, all Central universities, IITs and IIMs were put in the hands of people who agree with Bhagwat on reservations. The BJP has fuelled the anti-reservation sentiment among the castes that are outside the reservation.

Modi himself came from an organisational background that taught them reservations are anti-merit. There are many communists who also believe in that theory. When it comes to sustain caste inequalities, many political boundaries can be rubbed off. Bhagwat will find his real friends the day a Bill to abrogate reservation is introduced. Ambedkar, his ideals and his followers will be defeated.

Will not be a global issue

The reading down of Article 370 became a global issue because the issue is a bilateral one, and because Muslims are a global community. But international forums will not discuss reservations if they are abrogated.

The Dalits, OBCs andAdivasis, as of now, have no English educated intellectual force, even as much as the Indian Muslims, to educate the world about their status in the religion and the country. Muslims have a long history of English educated classes, from the days of Sir Syed Ahmad and the Aligarh Muslim University. But the Dalits and OBCs do not.

Also Read: It’s Time to Defang ‘Meritocracy’, an Argument That Claims Lives

The RSS is definitely preparing the ground to abrogate reservation. The core idea is, as Golwalkar argued in his book We Our Nationhood Defined, the restoration of the classical Varna dharma order. Mahatma Gandhi was also in support of restoring the Varna dharma order, as he always argued for retaining it.

If the RSS-BJP initiates a move to abrogate reservations, there will be number of so-called secular people who will also support them.

Today, the RSS/BJP has found a lot of new supporters for its decision to read down Article 370. Similarly, they will also find new supporters to abrogate reservation. We are in an age of abrogation of rights of Dalits, OBCs, Adivasi, minorities and migrants. This is a new phase of democracy.

Kancha Ilaih Shepherd is political theorist, social activist and author.