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Mudda questions rationale of Bharat bandh over SC/ST amendment, parties divided on whether they are with ordinance or ruling of apex court

With upper caste parties calling a Bharat bandh on September 6 against the SC/ST Act amendment proposed by the government, APN’s popular debate Mudda solicited the opinions of various political and social forces on the subject. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi spoke to panellists including BJP’s Ashok Thakur, Congress’ Sharbat Jahan Fatima, SP’s Vivek Silas, dalit leader Shyam Sahare, noted scribe Pradeep Kapoor and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Anant wanted to know if the reservation and special protections issue has become a political ploy to catch votes.

Thakur said: “The BJP is with all sections of the society. There is no question of appeasing any one particular community. This is a sensitive topic, so we need to be careful with our words. The ordinance bought in by BJP is a step in the right direction.”

Fatima said: “This government had promised to fight against corruption and rising prices, but is now playing appeasement politics only.”

Silas said: “The BJP is caught in its own web. So many people have died over the SC/ST Act issue. We feel there should be no politics over the SC/ST issue.”

Shyam Sahare said: “The incumbent government was under pressure, so the Supreme Court had to make changes in the Act.”

Kapur said:”Vote politics is responsible for this confusion.”

Raju said:”It is true that parties look at vote politics more than the social good. The BJP is guilty of playing vote politics.”

Thakur said: “More than the dalits, it is the so-called intelligentsia which vitiates the atmosphere.”

Fatima said:”With time, changes in the Act are bound to come about. Why should anyone be automatically arrested on a complaint without a proper inquiry?”

Silas said: “Whatever the law, it should not be misused.”

Are you in favour of the proposed BJP ordinance or not, asked Anant. Does the SP support the ordinance, Anant asked again. Silas evaded the question.

Kapur said: “I am all for a proper inquiry before an arrest is made.”

Anant pointed out that this is what the court had stated. Sahare said: “In the lynching cases, it was mainly the dalits who have been targeted.” But Anant opined that the SC/ST Act was not diluted, only three changes were made.

Raju said: “The court simply stated that a proper probe should be conducted before arrest.”

Anant asked Fatima if the Congress is with the upper castes or with the SC/ST on this issue, that is to say, if it is for the ordinance or with the SC. Fatima replied: “The Congress is with the law. Also, with those who are weak and in need of help.”

In his concluding note, Kapoor said: “National parties should act responsibly so as not to drive a schism into society.”

–Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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