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Congress playing ‘Caste’ game for presidential election

  • Mrinalini Singh
  • June 23, 2017
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67 years after the makers of India, led by Dr BR Ambedkar, gave this republic its Constitution, India faces a question of great significance. It is also, of course, a moment to reflect upon the social engineer of independent India, Ambedkar’s vision, as Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar, from communities that have been oppressed historically by India, compete to be entrusted with the task of protecting its very constitution he helped draft.

The Opposition parties met on Thursday and decided their presidential candidate. Former Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, was chosen to counter NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind’s claim to the Raisina Hill. She was elected unopposed at the Opposition meeting, which included leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury, Omar Abdullah and others.  Considering that the race boils down in the face-off between the two candidates and that Kovind and Kumar are both respected names from their respective parties, it will be an interesting competition on 17 July.

Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985 when she joined Congress. Her debut in politics further proves her standing as a Dalit leader, as she beat powerful Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati to win in Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. She became an MP for the second time in 1996 and again in 1998 from Delhi’s Karol Bagh constituency but lost her seat in 1999 when NDA returned to power. She was re-elected in 2004 with a huge margin from Sasaram in Bihar, the constituency of her father, and became an MP for the fifth time in 2009.

Her father, Babu Jagjivan Ram played an active role in the freedom. He became a Legislator at 28 in the year 1936 as a nominated member of the Bihar Legislative Council. Jagjivan Ram was elected unopposed in 1946 and was inducted into the Interim Government on 2 September 1946 as the Minister of Labour. Thereafter, he remained a member of the Union Cabinet for nearly 31 years. He was in the Central Parliamentary Board from 1950 to 1977.

Jagjivan Ram, a former Deputy Prime Minister of India and a spokesman for more than 100 million untouchables. His bids to become prime minister failed in 1977 and 1979 when Congress himself denied his candidature proposal. n 1931, he joined the Congress Party, which was led by Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and was the main force behind India’s drive for independence.

Mr. Ram had backed Mrs. Gandhi in 1969, when she rebelled against an older group of Congress Party officials and eventually seized control of the organization. But in 1975 he was upset by Mrs. Gandhi’s 1975 declaration of an internal emergency to maintain control after a court ruled that she was guilty of electoral fraud. He continued as a Cabinet minister, but when she announced elections in 1977 he left her Government, accusing her of authoritarianism.

Mr. Ram then made known his intention to compete against Morarji Desai, the 80-year-old ascetic politician who, as the leader of the newly formed Janata Party that had led the opposition to Mrs. Gandhi, was the front-runner for the prime ministry. It is also said that late prime minister Indira Gandhi used him as ‘Bali Ka Bakra’ (scapegoat) during Emergency in an attempt to remove any possible challenge to her leadership. Jagjivan Ram was used by the Congress & the government for his popularity & competence, he was never given any position of eminence because the prime minister’s chair was deemed to be the birthright of high-class leaders only.

Along with Indira Gandhi, Jagjivan Ram was the most senior & competent leader, who was the most eligible for the post of prime minister also. The biggest threat was from none other than Jagjivan Ram & therefore, he was considered the biggest scapegoat to move the resolution on Emergency.

Before going into the merits or not of the candidates, the elephant in every Indian room, that is caste, must be addressed. Every election in India is dependent on the math around caste and this time around, the Congress has made that math irrelevant by matching BJP every step of the way, and trying to upstage them as well. What has been most frustrating about this impending contest for the post of the Constitutional head of India no less, has been the politics of optics and perception of Congress.

History repeats itself and so the Congress is doing. They have now again made a scapegoat for presidential election who is popularly known as ‘Meera Kumari’. By playing a playcard of ‘Dalit’ they are trying their level best to gain their regime at the capital. This trick won’t work now anymore as the entire nation is well aware about the conspiracies which Congress was playing since decades.

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