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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Constitution change a canard: Rajasthan BJP poll manager allays fears over end to reservations

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, former parliamentarian and BJP national executive member, has sought to allay the fears of Dalits and tribals that the Constitution would be changed to take away reservations

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 27.04.24, 06:42 AM
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. Sourced by the Telegraph

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, former parliamentarian and BJP national executive member who is steering the party’s election machinery in Rajasthan as the official election in-charge, has sought to allay the fears of Dalits and tribals that the Constitution would be changed to take away reservations.

The BJP had made a clean sweep of all 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 2019 but is widely believed to be facing a challenge this time from the Congress and its allies.

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Sahasrabuddhe spoke to The Telegraph on Thursday, a day ahead of the second and final phase of polling in Rajasthan (12 seats went to polls on April 19 and voting on the remaining 13 took place on Friday).

Q: Rajasthan is one of the focus states of this election. The first round of voting has taken place and now you are preparing for the second. What is the feedback you are getting?

A: In so far as the entire picture of Rajasthan is concerned, the ground reality is that the BJP is more confident than last time because of the recent victory in the Assembly elections. We are now confident of a hat-trick of 100 per cent, of a satpratishat BJP in Rajasthan. In every nook and corner of this state I have seen people responding to our appeal and resonating with all those things the BJP stands for.

Q: On low voter turnout in the first phase compared to 2019.

A: The percentage of voting is not adequate. It is a matter of concern for everybody who believes in democracy and wants democratic rights to be exercised by all citizens.

But so far as the BJP is concerned, our machinery at the booth level has been working very efficiently. Later on you will realise that the BJP voters were doing their duty.

Q: Contrary to your claims there have been reports that the BJP leadership was concerned over the lower voter turnout — that the party machinery did not work properly to get the voters to the polling booths.

A: Our concern is in the interest of democracy. In fact there is evidence to suggest that whenever the voting is low, basically it is because people are happy with the current government. When they want to change the government the voting percentage becomes high, because everybody is very determined to vote.

But as a democrat, every party person, including our central leadership, has gone the extra mile in appealing to the citizenry to come out and vote in large numbers.

Q: In many constituencies of Rajasthan, we saw local issues dominating the wider Modi narrative. Issues of caste rivalry, of Jats and Meenas and also Rajputs being angry with the BJP. Doesn’t this concern the party?

A: See, so far as local issues are concerned, they are always there. Inter-community rivalry or conflict has also been there for a very long time. Right since Independence we have been struggling with this.

But when you have a leader like Prime Minister Modi and there is absolutely some kind of an impact or influence of his personality on the people, then it overrides all such local considerations. I don’t think this local-level rivalry or conflict is going to impact the BJP’s electoral prospects.

Q: There are reports about fear among sections of Dalits and tribals that the Constitution would be changed and reservations withdrawn. Do you see it impacting the BJP’s prospects?

A: If you look at the past elections, you will see that the same allegations were made against the BJP in 2019 and 2014. In many elections we have been braving such baseless allegations and everybody from amongst the SC-ST community is aware that it is the BJP which translated the dreams of Babasaheb Ambedkar into reality. Dr Ambedkar, while writing the Constitution, had opposed the inclusion of Article 370 (to give special status to Jammu and Kashmir). Ambedkar wanted Article 370 to go away. We made it happen.

Ambedkar wanted a common civil code and we are inching towards that. And so we are the worshippers of the Constitution and therefore all this calumny about the Constitution amendment is a canard. People are wiser now and they don’t believe this.

The Congress changed the Constitution more than 90 times. And, the Congress, much against the desire of Ambedkar, included those two terms in the Preamble — secularism and socialism — which are needless.

Q: What do you have to say about PM Modi using the poll rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara to play the sectarian polarisation card?

A: It is the Congress which is doing all these kinds of things. Their people are now talking about inheritance law and all those things and so naturally the Prime Minister, through his public meetings, is educating the masses. Is it not his duty to forewarn about lies if they do not vote for the BJP and select the Congress?

Let the Congress come out and say categorically that they don’t want to give quota to Muslims. Let them say what Manmohan Singh said about Muslims having the first right over the country’s resources is not the fact. Let them reject. Let them dissociate.

Q: But the Prime Minister says that the Congress wants to undertake a survey of citizens’ property, take away the mangalsutras of women and distribute them among ‘infiltrators’ and ‘those who have more children’.... Isn’t this an undisguised effort to play the communal card?

A: See, basically these are the inferences drawn because of the utterances of Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders. So, let the Congress come clean on that. That is the only thing. It is for them to explain, not for us.

Q: But the Congress has categorically denied that there is nothing in their manifesto about conducting a survey and distributing people’s property.

A: Nobody is going to be convinced because they have not denied the fact that they are going to do redistribution, because the overseas head of the Congress (Sam Pitroda) is talking about inheritance law and imposing inheritance tax. So you should be posing these questions to the Congress.

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