No power on earth can end reservation: Paswan

Scheduled Caste leader and Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan.

Scheduled Caste leader and Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan recently shot down RSS' suggestions for a healthy debate on the reservation policy. In an interview to Sagar Kulkarni and Anand Mishra of DH, Paswan accused the opposition of trying to create a mistrust over the reservation policy. He chose to reserve his comments on the Ram temple and Uniform Civil Code. Excerpts:

DH: Mr Paswan, this is the second time you have been a minister in the Modi government. There has been a statement by Mr Mohan Bhagwat on reservations and a message appears to be that BJP is trying to end reservation?

RVP: See, many leaders make comments on certain platforms. We cannot comment on each one of that. But as far as the government is concerned, the stand is clear, the Prime Minister has also said it time and again that reservation is our Constitutional right. It is an outcome of the Poona Pact signed between Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, no power on earth can end this. The Prime Minister has also said it time and again. And, on behalf of the government, I wish to make it clear that there is no need for any debate or discussion. Reservations have been there, are there and will continue to be there. Number one.

Number two: Reservation were initially for SC/ST, then Mandal Commission extended it to backward classes and now Narendra Modi has extended it to the economically weaker sections among upper castes. Now, if some body thinks that there should be a rethink or a debate on reservation, this is unthinkable. No power on earth can end reservation. This is very clear.

Now, there are some people in the opposition. They are aware and they react to some statements. They should do it, who is stopping them from doing it?

 

DH: Despite the PM making it clear, why this atmosphere of mistrust?

RVP: But, the opposition has tried to politicise the issue, be it Lok Sabha elections or be it Bihar elections. But what was the outcome? They did not get the desired result. Everyone knows that Modi does what he says. There are attempts to create an atmosphere of mistrust. But it doesn’t succeed always. But the same trick doesn’t work always. It clicked once in Bihar. But there has been no impact later. There was lot of noise during the Lok Sabha polls or for that matter, the UP elections. But what was the outcome?

 

DH: What if there is a healthy constructive debate on reservation?

RVP: What is a healthy debate? Reservation is reservation, it is our special right. So, what healthy debate can there be in it? The weaker sections of the society, should get special opportunities. If you have a defect in your eyes, don’t you go in for treatment? Or do you keep debating? If you have fractured your limb do you treat it or do you keep debating? Reservation is a treatment there is no scope for debate. How would you run when you have a paralysed limb?

 

DH: There is a buzz again about political realignment in Bihar? Do you see any possibility for this?

RVP: No, I don’t see any possibility. NDA is there, NDA is intact, NDA will contest the assembly elections together.

 

DH: But, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar appears to be singing a different tune. He has taken a different stand on triple talaq and Kashmir.

RVP: That is true. His party walked out in Parliament on the issue. But, he also made it clear that the reading down of Article 370 was a reality now and there is no need for further discussion.

 

DH: How do you see your politics till 2024?

RVP: With the NDA, of course. See, once we have taken a decision, we have not gone back on it. It is also not so that someone has formed the government and we have joined it. We have gone with someone, and then we have formed the government together. So, the question of leaving does not arise. We have been in the NDA and will continue to be in the NDA. There is no question of ifs and buts.

 

DH: P Chidambarm has been arrested? Why only opposition leaders are targeted? There are cases against NDA leaders as well?

RVP: See, all this is based on facts, the issue is technical in nature. This case, whether there is merit in it or not, this is all very technical. This has not been our domain, we have been dealing with social issues. This is a very technical issue, it is for the courts to decide. The court is apprised of the matter. Both the sides are fighting, what do we have to say in this?

 

DH: Modi government has been accused of political witchhunt. Do you think there is a political witch hunt?

RVP: This happens always. When BJP was in the opposition, Congress used to do this. Then BJP used to say this is a political witch hunt. This is a different matter. But those who are in the opposition, they keep saying such things.

 

DH: Three states go to polls over the next few months.

RVP: In all the three states, the BJP will form the government.

 

DH: After 370, there is buzz that BJP has come back to core issues and Ram Mandir and Uniform Civil Code are next.

RVP: In this matter, I cannot say anything.

 

DH: Where do you think the politics in Bihar headed to? RJD appears to be disintegrating. What role do you see for yourself in Bihar?

RVP: If you establish a party on the basis of one person and do not back it up with ideology such things happen. But, let me tell you one thing, there is no opposition left either at the Centre or in the state.

 

DH: Do you see the politics in UP turn into a direct fight between the BSP and the BJP?

RVP: No. Where does Mayawati stand. Take for example, Article 370, she supported it. Five years of Modi rule has proved that in this country neither will caste politics work, nor will politics of religion work. Politics will be on development. Narendra Modi first said Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and now he has added Sabka Vishwas to it. Who has stood with Mayawati. She says that Yadavs did not vote for her in elections, SP says that they did not get votes of the BSP. We had said it then as well, that they will not get each others’ votes and will go their own ways after elections. I don’t see any future for Mayawati. She is entangled in corruption cases and cannot get out of it.

 

DH: How do you see the future of Dalit politics?

RVP: Today’s dalit is not the same as he was 50 years back. Today, he is alert to social changes. I had already said there is a fundamental difference between generations. The new generation wants to lead a life of self respect, where ever it sees injustice being done, it challenges it. It is not necessary for a Ramvilas Paswan or Mayawati to take a lead always. You have seen the issue of Ravidas Temple in Tughlaqabad, people stood up. No one is ready to endure any atrocity. As far as reservation is concerned, everyone has got it. So, there is no politics possible on it.

 

DH: So, you do not see a single leader representing Dalits of the country.

RVP: See, when a community progress, it has no single leader. Do Brahmins have a leader, is there a single leader of Rajputs, Kayasthas or Bhumihars. Do they have a single person as a leader? Do all Yadavs swear by the same leader? In Bihar it is different, in UP it is different. So, I wish to reiterate, when a community progress there is no single leader. Ideology remains the same. Take for example, Bhagwat’s statement. Whether it was correct or wrong is a separate issue, but people from all corners of the country raised their voice. The result was such that even RSS said they favour the reservation policy.

 

DH: Do you see the opposition regrouping across the country?

RVP: Till such time the opposition will engage in negative politics, it will not revive.

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