Published On : Fri, Jan 20th, 2017

Abolish reservations, says Manmohan Vaidya at Jaipur Literary Festival

Manmohan Vaidya
The JLF, already under fire for inviting RSS ideologues to address a session, has become mired in more controversy after Manmohan Vaidya, ‘Prachar Pramukh’ of RSS and son of M.G. Vaidya, well known Nagpur journalist, declared that ” no country’s constitution guarantees reservations for a section of the community for ever. It goes against the principle of equality. (Give them) opportunities, not reservations”.

Hosabale, tried to distance himself from this statement by saying the “underprivileged deserve reservation” but the damage was done.

Vaidya is the head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s communications department, while Hosabale is a joint general secretary.

A repeat of Bihar fiasco?
We may recollect how Mohan Bhagwat’s anti-reservation statements prior to Bihar polls had quagmired BJP and RSS in controversy with BJP being charged with being anti dalit.

Modi had taken great pains after that in praising Dr. Ambedkar at any given opportunity and trying to project his government and his party as being completely sympathetic to the aspirations of Ambedkar followers.

But this statement at this juncture, coming from an important RSS functionary based in Nagpur, will definitely queer the pitch for BJP again in the most crucial UP elections just a month away.

RSS had been invited to Jaipur despite opposition
As English daily Hindustan Times had reported – ‘What’s raising the hackles of critics in the 2017 edition is a session featuring two leading RSS pracharaks: Akhil Bharatiya prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya and sahsarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale. Why will representatives of the RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the Bharatiya Janata Party, without any apparent literary worth, make their debut at the “greatest literary show on the earth”, particularly in a year when the litfest celebrates its tenth anniversary, is anybody’s guess.

Some leftists and liberals had walked out of JLF after the above RSS gentlemen were invited to speak.
Justifying their inclusion, the organizers had issued a statement explaining their decision.

The statement said the festival’s core values place equity, democratic access and free speech above all.

“For dialogue to be meaningful, we must have representation from all points of view,” read the statement.

“For a decade, the Jaipur Literature Festival has stood for diversity of ideas, languages, nationalities and subjects. The 2017 edition is no different in featuring multiple voices and viewpoints across genres collectively on one platform.”

Festival opened with much fanfare
Legendary lyricist Gulzar, American poet Anne Waldman, mystic Sadhguru and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje inaugurated the five-day event in Jaipur on Thursday (19 January).

Leading authors like William Dalrymple and John Elliot are part of the fest.

“We are just warming up,” said an ecstatic Dalrymple, adding: “This place is going to transform completely tomorrow as a flood of writers and their readers bless the festival, with their presence, dialogues and interactions.”

Considered among the most popular of such events, the festival will host over 250 authors, leaders, thinkers and popular icons while revolving around the theme of “The Freedom to Dream: India at 70”.

None of the organizers would have imagined that on the 2nd day itself the ‘world’s biggest gathering of writers and intellectuals’ would generate so much political controversy!