Nomination of Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for the presidential position has again brought the caste politics to the forefront of Indian politics. While a Brahmin appointment like the outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee was free of caste noise, the appointment of Mr. Kovind with his Dalit identity is the trending topic across media.
Congress had also earlier supported a Dalit President’s election (K R Narayanan, nominated by the United Front in 1997) and a Lok Sabha Speaker. However, Congress hardly made any effort to appoint any Dalit or OBC in the judiciary. Only a few Dalits have entered higher judiciary in the last 70 years. Even the few Dalits i.e. Justice Ramaswamy, Justice Dinakaran, Justice Karnan, Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, who got any chance to work in the judiciary, had to face severe discrimination and mostly left the office in disgrace.
Why even after so much hue and cry of caste politics by all national parties, neither Congress nor BJP are willing to appoint a Dalit or OBC judge? During the last 20 years of BJP and Congress rule, only Mr. KG Balakrishnan reached the Supreme Court from the constitutionally defined Scheduled Caste category. There has been absolutely no appointment of any person from SC/ST/OBC category in Supreme Court during recent times. SC and ST constitute 25% of the population, while OBC is estimated to constitute more than 40% of the population.
Although Judges are expected to be above politics, however, it’s impossible that they have no political orientation. Judges, who decide on the merit of cases, also have a soft corner or preference for certain political parties. Let’s look at the reason for not appointing a SC/ST/OBC with either Congress or RSS background.
Every depressed caste person (SC/ST/OBC) works hard to achieve his or her dignity through hard work. The depressed caste person has to work harder than open category person to achieve the same status due to all adverse circumstances. Same thing applies to the judicial domain as anyone entering the top position in the highest national institution has to go through tough academic, social and economic struggle.
It is expected that every Dalit follows the footsteps of Ambedkar. One of the folk songs in Jharkhand-Bihar region says every Dalit child should aspire to become Ambedkar. Other regions must have similar songs in their regional languages. The song goes like this:
Bachcho bano Ambedkar lal,
Mang rahi hai desh ki dharti …
Mang rahi hai desh ki dharti tere jaisa lal,
Bachcho bano ambedkar lal.
The OBC and Tribal populations also go through similar upbringing with the historic leaders along with Dr. Ambedkar as their role models to achieve success with hard work and full integrity.
Although, it is expected that every SC/ST/OBC achieves the integrity of their inspirational leaders, however, Bahujans being human are corruptible and some time Bahujans may compromise to achieve short-term objectives. But, there is no doubt that the successful SC/ST/OBC don’t forget their struggle and upbringing. Hence, they try to work towards making a better world for Bahujan masses. Given a chance even the Chamcha or Stooges, as defined by Manyawar Kanshiram, do try to work towards the upliftment of Bahujans.
The above thought process is clearly understood by upper castes dominating the power structures across the nation. Hence, not a single position is given to SC/ST/OBCs (with full integrity or even a Chamcha) in Constitutional Power, which cannot be controlled directly by the upper caste power holder.
President and Vice President positions have very limited power, as the person holding these positions have to follow the advice of the Government. The position of the House Speaker also has very limited power to regulate the house. Members of Parliament have absolutely no decision-making power inside the Parliament, as their votes on policy matters are decided by the Party Whips (due to Dal Badal Kanoon implemented in 1985).
Further, the Cabinet Ministers also have very limited power, as the Party leader can remove them at any time without any danger to the existence of Government. Even the position of Prime Minister is also nominated by the majority Party Head. Previous PM Manmohan Singh, despite all his academic and governance experience, was a PM nominated by Ms. Sonia Gandhi.
Party Heads like Sonia Gandhi or organisations like the RSS can remove a Prime Minister at any moment during their party rule. Hence, all these positions can be given to any SC/ST/OBC, as the upper castes holding the power can still control every action of the possible appointed SC/ST/OBC. While, India has already nominated an OBC Modi as PM, soon people can expect a nominated Dalit Prime Minister (like we saw in the case of Jitan Ram Manjhi who was nominated as CM in Bihar) in the caste politics with absolutely no power of decision making.
In the whole Constitutional structure, after Dal Badal Kanoon (anti-defection law), only judiciary is left which provides autonomy for any individual to work with own knowledge and wisdom, and without control from another individual. Parliamentary decisions are also subject to judicial review. Hence, judiciary provides a position where a successful individual can exercise power autonomously, without any control from an outside institution. Judiciary many times handled the cases of political corruption independently like Indira Gandhi had to resign after Allahabad High Court decision. A single judge can dissent from the majority decision in the Panel of Judges hearing any case in the courtroom. Hence, any single SC/ST/OBC entering the Judiciary can be a threat to upper caste power structure.
The upper castes never want to give any liberty to even a Congress or RSS trained Bahujan due to complete lack of trust. Dalits who may have compromised and toed the lines of RSS or Congress temporarily while struggling for success are not trusted, and those Dalits are given only nominal positions, which can be controlled remotely.
Hence, Congress or RSS never want any SC/ST/OBC person in the judicial system who can threaten the Government or upper caste political power.
S Kumar is an Engineering and Management graduate from top institutes.
Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.