Constitution Says We Are Equal, Caste System Doesn’t: Tejashwi Yadav
Tejashwi Yadav. Image Courtesy: PTI
Patna: RJD leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has criticised the caste system questioning the hierarchy proffered by it.
He said, “How and why were some castes “upper” and other castes “lower” if all are Hindus? Questions are bound to be raised.” He was speaking at a function on Wednesday to mark the birth anniversary of Jagdeo Prasad, a legendary backward caste icon – locally known as Bihar’s Lenin.
Yadav raised this issue amid controversy over Bihar Education Minister Chandrashekhar’s statement that the Hindu epic poem Ramcharitmanas spread hatred. This statement had drawn flak from the BJP and right-wing organisations like VHP, and Bajrang Dal, as well as several priests.
After Chandrashekhar, Bihar’s Revenue and Land Reforms minister Alok Kumar Mehta also, without naming upper castes, targeted the powerful 10% of the country’s population last week. He said that they were “agents of the British” and are enjoying power and running the show, exploiting the backward and disadvantaged sections of society.
“Under this caste system, fewer people were put in the upper caste category and the majority were put in the lower caste category. Why are some above others? People will seek answers,” said Tejashwi.
He added that when we believe in the Constitution of India, it treats us all as equals. “If we are all equal, how come some people are upper and others are lower? People should be treated equally and get a share as per their proportion in the population.”
Tejashwi also attacked BJP and its mentor RSS for defaming the Hindu religion and spreading hate in the name of the religion contrary to the age-old traditions of tolerance. “BJP is playing its old game to divide people in the name of religion for political interest. RSS has defamed the Hindu religion more than others,” he said.
“No one should preach to us anything about Ramcharitmanas and Gau Mata (cow) as we are Hindus too. We have had a strong and close relationship with Ram-Krishna and Gau Mata for ages. But we don't require anyone’s certificate for being Hindus,” he asserted.
Chandrashekhar, a senior RJD leader, had last month sparked controversy with his speech at the convocation of Patna-based Nalanda Open University. He claimed that religious texts like Ramacharitmanas spread hatred just as much as Manusmriti and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MS Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ created a social divide.
Despite repeated demands for an apology made by the BJP, Chandrashekhar on Friday told NewsClick that his statement was based on facts and there was no question of making an apology.
Mehta claimed that he had received death threats from two people for his statement and informed the Patna police about it. “I have not stated anything wrong; it is a fact as Jagdeo Prasad used to call out 10% who are the exploiters,” he said.
Both Chandrashekhar and Mehta, who belong to the powerful OBC castes Yadav and Kushwaha, have the full backing of their party RJD to strengthen the social support base among OBCs, EBCs, and Dalits.
The Mahagathbandhan government led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar has already launched the much-awaited caste census in the state in January 2023.
After the BJP-led Centre ruled out such a census in the country two years ago, the Kumar government decided to conduct it in Bihar. The census was expected after CM Kumar dumped the BJP and joined hands with the RJD, Congress, and Left parties to form the Mahagathbandhan last August.
The two-phased census will help the grand coalition consolidate its social support base by fulfilling a major promise to OBCs and EBCs. Both Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD are pro-Mandal and have been demanding a caste census in Bihar, where caste plays a decisive role in politics.
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