There is no time limit for reservation in democracy, Bhagwat should know. RSS is not the first to oppose this IG News

Just two days before Biden arrives on Indian soil for the G20 summit, Indian newspapers and TV channels began running with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s new commitment to inclusivity and empathy for marginalized communities. The timing of his emotionally charged statement could not have been missed. He said that reservations should continue as long as there is no discrimination in society – views he had espoused eight years ago when he called for a review of the system.

A nagging question must have arisen in the minds of the G20 delegates: Is this the same organization that has faced repeated sanctions by the Indian government? Has this organization not been under constant scrutiny of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since the assassination of MK Gandhi in 1948? The RSS is also said to have been involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots, due to its failure to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visa being rejected by the US, as he was the CM in the state at that time. As the Modi government has been avoiding questions on threats to communal harmony in India, Biden saw an important moment to speak on the issue during his visit to Vietnam on September 10. The impact of his words spread far beyond Vietnamese shores and echoed throughout the world. “As I always do, I raised with Modi the importance of respect for human rights and the vital role of civil society and the free press in building a strong and prosperous country,” he said.

This raises a fundamental, dramatic and emotionally charged question: Was Bhagwat’s support for reservations a heartfelt concern for the welfare of Dalits or was it a carefully staged performance to impress G20 leaders? If this were genuine, one would have expected the RSS chief to bring his organization’s constitution in line with the Constitution of India that very day. The well-planned spectacle of the Modi government hiding slums to welcome G20 dignitaries raises deep questions about the complex nature of this unfolding drama.

RSS is not the first

It is not just the RSS – across the world, leaders of various ideologies have sometimes challenged the sanctity of affirmative action, sometimes subjecting these important principles to scrutiny. Marion Anne Le Pen in France, Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, Donald Trump in the US, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Victor Orban in Hungary, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe have made their mark. It has sometimes tried to get its way, either by using populism or by stoking divisive sentiments. However, a resounding and undeniable lesson echoes through this diverse narrative: in democratic societies, the Constitution acts as a lifeline, and at its core lies the principle of equal opportunity for all.

Tampering with the fundamental principles of democracy, especially affirmative action, has historically had disastrous consequences. In Bolivia, mass protests echoed across the country as Evo Morales attempted to consolidate his rule in 2020. In Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro’s demands to rewrite the constitution in 2017 turned the streets into a poignant forum of dissent. Thousands of miles away in 2013, when Mohammed Morsi seized power, Egypt’s stormy intersections were filled with passionate protesters. Zimbabwe under Mugabe, who was notorious for repeatedly initiating constitutional adjustments, ultimately succumbed to pressure from a frustrated population and an opportunistic military. Turkey and Poland, once celebrated for their democratic progress, are now in a precarious position, facing accusations of democratic erosion due to Erdoğan’s consolidation of power and Poland’s judicial reforms.

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