Congress Party’s Sacred Duty - K Raju

Hqdefault Tue, 01 Nov 2016

Congress Party’s Sacred Duty - K Raju

India has been blessed with leaders of outstanding moral fibre who have steadfastly safeguarded and strengthened the idea of India. It is because of their inspiration that protecting the rights of every Indian has always been an article of faith with the Congress Party. 

It is universally acknowledged that the ideals, goals and values of India’s freedom struggle form the life breath of the Constitution of India, and and more importantly, provide an ethical framework for India’s development. However, what is not sufficiently acknowledged is that it is the Congress Party’s philosophy that is the bedrock of our Constitution. In crafting the idea of India, Pandit Nehru, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad (among numerous other stalwarts of the Constituent Assembly) ensured that the Constitution guarantees, among other things, freedoms of speech, expression, religion, and most of all, the right to live with human dignity. They firmly believed that governments must respect, protect and further the collective aspirations of every citizen in India, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, birth or ideological inclination. 

Today, these ideas, as well as the promise of India is no longer sacrosanct or accessible to all. No matter how loudly or cleverly the BJP tries to couch its actions in the paradigm of vikas, the truth is that they are tearing the fabric of India with their regressive and dastardly norms, which are deeply antithetical to our constitutional principles. Each of the above mentioned rights, that the Congress fought so hard to institutionalise and make inalienable, are under severe attack. Therefore, when they argue they want a Congressmukt Bharat, what they really want is a Congress ideology mukt Bharat. The Sangh Parivar has, and is consciously undermining India’s constitutional values because they simply don’t believe in them. To understand what the Sangh follows, Congress Party’s Sacred Duty - K Raju we must look to its chief ideologue MS Golwalkar, whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi idolises so much that he even penned his biography in 2010. Denigrating our Constitution (in “Bunch of Thoughts”), Golwalkar asked: “Is there a single word…in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is?”

He then went on to shockingly argue (in “Why Hindu Rashtra?”): “Unfortunately…our Constitution has… given equal rights to everybody, just as a person without understanding may give equal rights to his children and to the thieves in his house and distribute the property among all”. He then argues, in what can only be characterised as fascist, that non Hindus in India can “claim nothing, deserve no privileges, far less any preferential treatmentnot even citizen’s rights”! This is the man PM Modi idolises and these are the ideas he truly believes in! The Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) are the most important budgetary components for SCs and STs. However, the NDA has slashed budgetary allocation for the SC sub plan by 28.6%, while the tribal sub plan has been slashed by 25%. Similarly, allocations for Panchayati Raj have been slashed by a dramatic 98.6%, for Drinking Water and Sanitation by 59%, for the ICDS by 53%, for Women and Child Development by 51%, for the Mid Day Meal by 32.6%, for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by 22%, for the agricultural sector by 20%, and for Health by 15.17%! This author is wondering (like I suppose the whole nation is), what happened to sabka saath, sabka vikas? Or should we presume that everything PM Modi says are just election jumlas? 

comment India has been blessed with leaders of outstanding moral fibre who have steadfastly safeguarded and strengthened the idea of India. It is because of their inspiration that protecting the rights of every Indian has always been an article of faith with the Congress Party. But welfare expenditure cuts are not the only problem. Since the NDA assumed office, India has also witnessed an alarming rise in attacks against dalits, minorities, farmers, students, workers and various other sections. In every one of these, the RSS has been directly involved. Consider these: Atrocities against Dalits have risen not just in terms of numbers, but also in intensity. After May 2014, a malicious pattern has been emerging in the nature of attacks against dalits, which have registered a 19% increase (a majority after May). 2015 also saw horrific caste atrocities in Faridabad, in Ahmednagar, in Nagaur, in Moga and in every state where the BJP is in power or in alliance. Similarly, over 600 cases of violence (406 targeting Muslims) occurred between May 2014 and May 2015. Many more have occurred since. In fact, since the NDA came to power, over 8,000 Christians have been attacked by the Sangh throughout India, registering a threefold increase since UPA left office. Christian organisations have labeled 2015 as the worst year for Christians since independence! In the last five months, the RSS has directly or indirectly engineered lynchings throughout India for nothing more than ‘offensive’ comments on social media, and for transporting beef. Dadri, Udhampur, and Uchekon Moiba Thongkhong are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Scholars like MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Dabholkar have been murdered, as are RTI activists and whistleblowers. Similarly, NGOs are forced to close down because they raise legitimate questions. Finally, the BJP has treated our Universities like nothing more than caste panchayats. It has constantly interfered in the autonomy of education institutions and the lives of students, claiming great concern for India’s youth! If the NDA were really even slightly concerned, it would have been implemented the recommendations of Sukhdeo Thorat Committee (which was set up on the personal intervention of PM Manmohan Singh). Based on the Thorat committee’s recommendations, the University Grants Commission (UGC) came out with the “UGC (Promotion of Equity in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations”, which were promptly approved by the UPA Govt. As per these regulations, harassment and victimisation of SC/ST students at the hands of their teachers and peers has been clearly defined (these include caste based verbal abuse and name calling, segregation in hostel and mess, withholding fellowships, not paying attention and de-motivating them etc.) and made punishable offences. It has been mandatory for universities to appoint an ‘anti-discriminatory officer’ (who has to resolve issues within 60 days) and to establish “Equal opportunity Cell”. 

Instead, consider how the NDA acted in the Hyderabad University episode. Instead of prodding the University to resolving the atrocious situation as per the UGC resolutions, the BJP deliberately fostered casteism and flouted each of the above mentioned UGC regulations. The NDA and the Hyderabad University pushed the students to such an extent that Rohith Vemula was forced to commit suicide. This is not an isolated incident, and the BJP is methodically destroying the education system in India. The NDA has clamped down on the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras (merely for expressing their views). Similarly, the RSS’ Panchajanya attacked JNU for being an ‘anti-national den’, while various BJP governments have set the police loose on students from FTII, and in Delhi for raising their voices against their unjust policies. They have also attacked the minority character of institutions like AMU and Jamia Islamia. In the past, India has been blessed with leaders of outstanding moral fibre who have steadfastly safeguarded and strengthened the idea of India. It is because of their inspiration that protecting the rights of every Indian has always been an article of faith with the Congress Party. 

The NDA on the other hand has diluted the laws and policies that protect and support the disempowered and disadvantaged, be it the SC/ST PoA Act, the Forest Rights Act, PESA, various environmental and labour laws, as well as a plethora of socio-economic policies designed to further the national interest. The RSS’ poison needs to be sucked out, and the Congress Party must rise to the task, as it has done in the past. It is only Congress Party which can forge on steadfastly on the frontline in this battle for India’s soul. The future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving. It is the Congress’ sacred duty to halt these divisive forces that threaten to tear apart the fabric of India, and to restore fullness of life to all the peoples of India. In the end, we should pay heed to Babasaheb Ambedkar exhortation to us: “if we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path…nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. That is the only way to serve the country”. 

The author is a chairman, AICC - SC Dept