In this age of Manustream media, when your history is being rewritten and when every attempt is being made to erase the glorious chapters, forget leaders who have immense contribution towards social justice and secularism, it is our duty to continuously remembering them whether the brahmanical media has time for them or not or whether they consider them ‘irrelevant’ today.
Former prime minister Vishwnath Pratap Singh was one such person which our brahmanical expert want to forget yet his legacy is so powerful or haunting for them that they cant really ignore him even when a decade has passed. Forget the media or their chums, not many remember him in todays time when in my opinion remembering those tumultuous period is important to understand what hurt the brahmanical elite the most.
The acceptance of the Mandal Commission Report that provided 27% reservation for socially and educationally backward communities on August 7th, 1990 by V P Singh government at the Center jolted the ‘conscience’ of the Savarna elite. With the help of Manuwadi media, they launched a sinister campaign against the government which was perhaps the only government since independence which fulfilled some of its poll promises and was honoring issues of social justice on a much bigger and with commitments.
It was not merely acceptance of the report and job reservation, VP’s action brought the Dalit-OBC-Adivasis together along with minorities. New alliances were being forged and a credible leadership of the OBCs in particular emerged in the north India in the post Mandal days. VP lost his government in the Parliament due to Congress’s manipulations and BJP’s dirty games of countering Mandal through Ram Mandir issue but it was a well known fact that the entire manipulations and mechanism of these parties were meant to counter growing Dalit OBC-Adivasi assertion and joining hands and demanding their due. V P must be given credit for reviving many things.
While, he is given credit for the OBC reservation in the Central government jobs but very few persons know the fact that SC-St Prevention of Atrocities Act became a reality in his time. That Dr Ambedkar was given the Bharat Ratna and his magnificent portrait was put inside the Parliament. VP raised this issue as how can Parliament not have the portrait of the person who is the chief architect of our constitution ? The issue of the neo Buddhist also came during his period and reservation was extended to them.
However, the most important part of VP was that he was an honest person to the core. He might not have been a rabble rouser but we can say it safely that his government’s action also promoted the writings and work of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and ensured that it reach the nooks and corners of the country. At least, at the central level, such a huge support for the cause of Ambedkarism and social justice happened in India for the first time. VP was not an Ambedkarite but he was a quick learner and once he dedicated himself for the cause of the social justice, he never went back from it.
VP was far sighted and knew the power of opinion making. He created things which was impossible for people to reject. It was he proposed K R Narayayan’s name for the Vice President’s post in August 1992 and got the resolution passed by Janata Dal. Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma was the president. In 1997 when parties were looking for Sharma’s successor, VP again pushed K R Naryayan suggesting that he is one of the most capable persons that we have and deserve to be the president. No political party had the courage to deny this and Narayanan proved to be one of the best presidents of India.
VP did not gain anything from it. He was a simple man who could join any protest movement. All those who are working on Right to Information, issue of MNREGA, Land Acquisition Act, fighting against WTO, issues of slums know it well that he was a great moral force behind the activists who were fighting for it. Unlike other contemporary leaders who kept conspicuously silent on these major issues affecting us, VP was not only vocal on the issues of the people but also committed himself for the cause.
It is a sad commentary on our leadership that they chose to forget the man behind revival of many regional kshatraps. It pains me a lot to see that those who benefited from the politics and action of VP Singh have completely forgotten him and it look even the old animosities of politicians have not finished despite his not being there. May be, those politicians who are up to grab the savarna votes, would not like to remember VP Singh as just mentioning his name would turn them red.
History is always written by the dominant. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, EVR Periyar, Jyoti Ba Phule all are with us because they ensured every thing is well analysed and documented. If they had left things to Brahmins to be documented then their name would have erased from history. There are many who have been active in politics and would get little time to document themselves. It is important for us to acknowledge the contribution of all those who ensured the participation of India’s Bahujan Communities in power structure.
During the Mandal one there were not many OBCs to fight in the street and lot of support came from Ambedkarites and Dalit activists but in the second phase onward, many new OBC students emerged and along with Ambedkarite students they fought their battle. It is these young dynamic students and scholars who are our future and who should be nurtured and encouraged. The Bahujan political leadership in India has failed to take this young aspiring leadership into confidence. VP Singh encouraged new youngs, he visited universities and colleges and gave confidence to many aspiring leaders. Today, if the politicians have no time to remember him, it is not the fault of VP Singh, but the failure of an ungrateful and treacherous political class which does not want to give him credit and nor does it want to ‘offend’ the ‘sentiments’ of the ‘powerful’ who are bitter against VP even today as VP’s action broke the hegemony of the twice born in the political map of India. Whether you love him or hate him, VP will continue to be relevant even today rather than organisation, he focused on people and masses which the political class today is unable to do because of their obsession with ‘organisation’ and drawing room manipulations.
Brahmanical history will obliterate VP and his contribution but we hope one day the Bahujan intellectuals will include him in their list of icons so that generations can realise that how difficult it is to break the caste monopoly and what is the price for those who dare to go against the political and social interest of their own castes. VP’s life became an example of what happen to you if talk of social justice and fair representation but then he did not care for his social and political isolation and perhaps that was his most powerful statement. It is difficult to follow the path of VP as that means renunciation and rejection to power which would be impossible for those who want to cling to it at all cost. His model was difficult as he never waited to resign from his positions of power without ever being asked for it. He was a philosopher politicians, a rare breed yet it is essential that we do remember such honest political leaders whose actions helped democratise our polity and ensured access to power to all.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity