Till now, I considered Rajiv Gandhi as the worst of all the Prime Ministers, and why not! He is the father of communal politics in India. His majority government in 1986 overturned the Shah Bano verdict of Supreme Court for Muslim vote bank.
But the aftermath of this seemingly ordinary decision of Rajiv government changed the politics forever. To overcome the growing resentment among Hindus and accusations of Muslim appeasement after his decision, he opened the gates of temple (sealed by courts) in Ayodhya with a countrywide live telecast on Doordarshan, thus giving a huge boost to VHP’s Ram Mandir movement. This issue was then taken up by the BJP, consolidating Hindu votes, and the party’s tally in Lok Sabha reached to 86 seats in 1989 from mere 2 seats in 1984. Temple issue became mainstream in Indian politics.
Those were turbulent times with electorate politically divided among Hindus and Muslims. Then, the father of communal politics, Mr. Gandhi, lost election in 1989 and made way for the father of caste politics in India, Mr. VP Singh.
Now it was Mr. VP Singh’s turn to further divide the society and consolidate his vote bank, which he called “the backwards”. With nothing to show for governance, he hurriedly implemented the Mandal Commission recommendations of 27% reservations creating a further divide.
Once things were set in motion by Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Singh, the Advanis and the Lalus, the Mulayams, the Mayawatis took over from there. Babri Masjid demolition and thereafter communal riots followed, creating a permanent communal divide. On the hand, casteist socialists started consolidating their caste based vote banks and went on to build the biggest political dynasties, taking cue from Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
We cannot truly assess how much damage these events (plain vote bank politics under the garb of secularism and social justice) have inflicted upon our nation. For comparison (it is not that fair and simple), but in 1980s Indian and Chinese economy were more or less equal in terms of GDP, after 3 decades China is way far ahead of us.
Believe it or not, today India stands at similar crossroads. The Supreme Court after careful consideration of SC/ST atrocity act, an act with conviction rate of 27% (way less than conviction rate in other IPC crimes), made some changes regarding immediate arrest of accused without any prior investigation, citing misuse of the law to harass innocent. And this is what natural justice demands. Everyone must have heard the line “100 culprits may let go free but no innocent should be punished”.
It was for the Supreme Court to judge. But bowing down to pressure from various groups of “angry” SC/ST community and fear of losses in upcoming elections, Mr. Narendra Modi’s government did exactly what Rajiv Gandhi did in Shah Bano case. At least Rajiv Gandhi waited for a year or so and actually lost some by-poll elections before overturning the SC decision after intense debates and discussions in the parliament. Mr. Modi, on the other hand meekly surrendered to the protests and as well as in both houses of parliament with all the political parties on board (nobody wants to lose vote bank).
There was no debate or discussion on the bill bought by Mr. Modi and was passed hurriedly by both the houses of parliament without any objection (on the contrary, everyone was applauding). And thus overturning the Supreme Court’s order.
This act of Modi government has created another divide among the people on caste lines. Few groups from general category and OBCs, some of whom were loyal vote bank of BJP since Ram Mandir movement are in open rebellion now (at least in Madhya Pradesh, it was evident from the September 6 protests). Some anti-reservation groups have also joined in the protest.
Till now they don’t have any political patronage. Maybe new leaders will up from the group itself. These groups have the money, position and the numbers to affect the elections. Lets see how long Mr. Modi follows Rajiv Gandhi’s style of appeasement politics. I think, maybe he will lose the upcoming election in 2019 and make way for the opportunists, casteists, socialists, dynastic leaders i.e. the so called mahagathbandhan formed under the garb of saving the democracy, the idea of India or whatever, while it is just to prevent their political extinction.
One of the agenda of these socialists is extending reservation in private sector. Let us hope VP Singh’s era is not repeated all over again because that would be disastrous for the nation already reeling under economic stress. A chain of events have been set in motion by Modi government with the overturning of the SC decision. Lets see where it takes us now and remember what happened when it was overturned last time.