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This is an extraordinary time when falsehoods look like truths and double talk blocks meaningful communication. You can call it a jumla or a political masterstroke, but the one thing that can be said for sure of the Quota Bill, introduced in haste in parliament is that it goes against the very spirit of affirmative action as conceived in India. 

The manner, in which the political parties voted for providing 10 per cent reservation for the general category in government jobs and educational institutions, economic backwardness as the criterion, shows the bankruptcy of political leadership, devoid of vision and foresight, driven by electoral politics.

Reservation is sacred to the political parties because it preserves caste inequalities and injustices. True to the Indian style of not doing things, reservation did not mean what it appeared to promise. In the first place, the Constitution is gracefully ambiguous in its provisions for reservation. To the constitutional ambiguities the judiciary has added its own ambivalences. In addition to that, Modi cabal will go to any length – do anything, say anything, promise anything – to try to win the next Lok Sabha election. 

Never mind that the proposed constitutional amendment would certainly run afoul of the Supreme Court, but the super-clever men who constitute the Modi clique clearly hope that large chunks of the friendly media will help the prime minister re-write the ‘narrative’ around this 10 per cent business. The Modi crowd may well be entitled to its conceit but the democratic, liberal, progressive and secular voices owe it to the country not to get taken in by this sleight of hand. 

The last-minute googly needs to be seen for what it is: an open acknowledgement by Prime Minister Modi himself that his government’s record of glorious incompetence will not do the trick with the voters in 2019. It is an implicit admission that the vikas mantra has lost its power of incantation. The politics of polarisation has run its course. The “chowkidar” has found it difficult to get away from the Rafale taint. 

After the defeat in the three Hindi-speaking states, the much-touted “chanakyas” have come to realise that the voters have perhaps seen through the baazigar’s bag of tricks. Hence, a new act – say, the 10% quota – had to be unveiled. More such dramas can be expected, before the model code of conduct kicks in.  

Whatever may be the BJP’s compulsion, it remains incumbent upon the opposition to nail the Modi government down with its own failures and flaws. That means not letting the Modi sarkar photoshop its incompetence out of the election-time narrative. That also means not letting the country forget about the great scam called demonetisation – a gross abuse of governmental authority by a grossly whimsical prime minister.

 - Javvadi Lakshmana Rao, Visakhapatnam


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