Rattling over Sabari, 10% quota at meet on Constitution

Rattling over Sabari, 10% quota at meet on Constitution

Former governor of Rajasthan Margaret Alva, CPM leader Brinda Karat, Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge, former Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari and RSS idealogue Sehadri Chari at the Conversations of the Constitution in Bengaluru.

Sparks flew when CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat and RSS leader Rakesh Sinha shared the stage for a discussion on the Constitution on Tuesday, with the two crossing swords over the Sabarimala row and the new 10% reservation.

Brinda, Sinha, Brown University political science professor Ashutosh Varshney, RSS ideologue Seshadri Chari and historian Mridula Mukherjee were discussing the origin of the Constitution and its historical challenges as part of the Conversations of the Constitution, a seminar organised by the state government that was abruptly cancelled.

“There were some who believed that Manusmriti should form the basis of India’s framework, but the very foundation of our Constitution being secular ensures democracy. If we are to be guided by religious texts and the toxic caste system, where’d we be today? The Supreme Court order on Sabarimala is being defined as a matter of faith, whereas it is a fundamental issue concerning women,” Brinda said.

Sinha jumped in to counter Brinda. “The Sabarimala issue is about the importance of the Ayyappa temple. You are defying the Ayyappa temple in the name of gender equality. It’s a question of devotion and faith,” he said, before lashing out at Kerala’s CPM government for “trying to destroy Hindus.”

The issue of reservation, Chari rued, has been reduced to mere votebank politics. “Even after 70 years, politicians continue to believe that backward and forward (castes) will bring votes,” he said. “The biggest problem of reservation is not some Brahmin taking the place of a Dalit. It’s that Dalit leaders themselves have made it a votebank issue.”

Brinda charged that Dalits, especially women, continued to be discriminated on the basis of caste and that the rights of Adivasis (tribals) were being curtailed. She pointed to Sinha, while saying the Women’s Reservation Bill was stuck since 2010.

Sinha, however, said the new 10% reservation for the poor among upper castes was a progressive move.

“We brought the Triple Talaq Bill, which has been blocked by the progressive people in the Rajya Sabha,” he said, pointing to Brinda.