Just as election season approaches, RSS becomes an important tool for the opposition in an effort to indirectly attack and question the BJP. The media, which has a regular habit of twisting facts in the hope of sensationalizing an issue, was found aiding the ‘attack RSS policy’ by spinning RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya’s statement on the reservation policy.
Aaj Tak, in a Breaking News format, went big alleging that in a statement ahead of the UP election RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya had stated that reservations should be abolished.
— आज तक (@aajtak) January 20, 2017
Barkha Dutt to tried to further this idea, but was promply rebutted by people who were actually present at the venue, including Mr Sanjaya Baru, former media advisor and chief spokesperson of former PM Manmohan Singh
@BDUTT I was in audience. Not quite what was said. Heavy over interpretation of a nuanced statement.
— sanjaya baru (@barugaru) January 21, 2017
In order to quell the rumors, the whole video of Mammohan Vaidya’s proceedings was provided by the Editor-in-chief of news channel WION:
The video started with Vaidya stating that SC/ST’s have been neglected and that it is the nation’s responsibility to reconcile them into the mainstream. He then proceeded to quote Babasaheb Ambedkar by stating that reservations shouldn’t go on forever, and everyone should be provided equal opportunities as soon as its need ends. And in conclusion, stated that other ways like education etc. should also be properly implemented in order to help the backward sections of the society.
So nowhere did Vaidya express his personal opinion about abolishing the reservation policy. He was only quoting Ambedkar when he said that reservation should be time bound.
Back in September 2015 Mohan Bhagwat had issued a statement calling for a re-look at the existing reservation policy. This statement, even though asking for a re-look and not a ban, and made by someone who isn’t directly associated with the government, was blown out of proportions and was considered one of the key factors for which the BJP might have had to pay dearly in the Bihar assembly elections. This was also pointed out in a post analyzing the BJP’s defeat wherein it was pointed out how the RJD-JDU alliance was successful in conveying to Dalits that BJP was against reservations, and it ultimately cost BJP Dalit votes.
How defensive the BJP has had to be on the reservation issue can be gauged by this speech by Narendra Modi wherein he had to explicitly state that he and his Government wasn’t against reservations, and proceeded to chide those who spread such false rumors in this regard:
PM Narendra Modi takes a Dig on Lutyen Media twisting Manmohan Vaidya statement on Reservations
Reaffirms that RESERVATION WILL STAY pic.twitter.com/oAQ38fjYmo
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) January 20, 2017
Like Bihar, even the UP elections are heavily influenced by caste and such statements by the RSS leaders may ultimately come back to haunt the BJP, chiefly based on people’s perception of BJP and RSS being two sides of the same coin.
Now even though Manmohan Vaidya has issued an explicit clarification that RSS is not against reservations, it needs to be seen how this spin impacts the elections.