BY INVITATION - It's enrichment, and not outreach! Back
June 29, 2017
Originally Published In
After BJP president Amit Shah's announcement of Ramnath Kovind as NDA's nominee for Rashtrapati, the decision was interpreted in several ways by the media. It was argued that one must read between the lines. But without first reading the lines, the rest has no meaning. The resultant analysis has been incomplete.
To start with, many even raised an ugly , even arrogant question “Who is this Kovind?“ For any student of post-1990 politics in India to ask such a query reflects deep ignorance.Another common response was that Kovind is part of BJPRSS “out reach“ programme! Again, the comment smacks of condescension.
An organisation undertakes an outreach to a section of society that is not an integral part of it's scheme of things. In the case of Bharatiya Janata Party history is witness to it's integrationist, assimilative character and more importantly collective commitment to social justice in party organisation and government.Hence, to describe Kovind's nomination as an outreach is dismissive of the scheduled castes as well as BJP. BJP is acutely conscious of both the importance as well as limitations of symbolism. Symbolic measures are important as they communicate intent loudly and clearly . Not for no reason, the venue of BJP's first plenary session in 1980 in Mumbai was named Samata Nagar. Besides, it was during Atalji's Prime Ministership that social welfare ministry was appropriately renamed as social justice. BJP honestly implemented an agenda for genuine social justice and economic opportunity .
Equality of respect and recognition, of participation and of opportunities for development has been at the core of the concept of samarasta. This is harmony emanating from and leading to social justice. Unlike samata, which is equity; it's not just perceptional and outwardly .Samarasta, is more about mutual understanding stemming from a recognition by communities that comprise traditionally established sections of society of injustice done by them in the past. It has to be from within. It is remorse and reconciliation.No wonder, Balasaheb Deoras, third Sar Sanghchalak of RSS had unequivocally stated that if untouchability is not sin then perhaps there are no sins in this world. When Deoras was given the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak Award, he donated the entire money to an NGO working in Mhaisal, near Sangli for the economic upliftment of farmers belonging to SC communities.
Dalits, rightly recognised by the Constitution as scheduled castes, have always supported BJP , a party that refused to look at them as a vote bank. Scheduled Caste leaders have been prominent in BJP's organisational hierarchy . Bangaru Laxman was made party president in 2000. BJP never ever looked at them as organisational showpieces or occupants of ornamental positions. Going beyond quota, BJP has seen some state units ensuring participation from the district level.
In Maharashtra, BJP is in alliance with Republican Party of India and even during the Bharatiya Jan Sangh era, for example in 1967, BJS and Republican Party fought elections jointly . Later, in late 1970s, likes of Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Munde joined the movement for renaming of Marathwada University at Aurangabad after Dr Balasaheb Ambedkar. Even today , the NDA government along with some states is working to developing five important memorials for Dr Ambedkar, including one at Chaitya Bhoomi in Mumbai where he was cremated.
A simple demand for allowing land of an abandoned PSU mill in Mumbai for this memorial had remained unmet for several years under UPA.Again, it is in Madhya Pradesh, a BJP-ruled state, that India's first Dharma-Dhamma University is taking shape near Vidisha, promoting academic research that will bring about greater assimilation of SC communities as envisaged by Dr Ambedkar.
Dr Ambedkar had cherished the dream of Dalit youths becoming 'job givers' and not remaining happy with the 'job seeker' status. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working towards this end through MUDRA Yojana. A large number of youth have taken advantage of this scheme and a majority from the SC communities have become new entrepreneurs or expanded their enterprise.
Selection of Ramnath Kovind goes far beyond symbolism. It is a recognition to all those who have been struggling for samarasta, a celebration of the democracy of aspirations and above all, a salute to a true disciple of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar when the nation celebrates its 70th Independence Day and Republic Day.