The article was a desperate attempt to divide society along the lines of caste and to instigate a section of the community against the BJP.
ThePrint on 1 August, published a report written by Ruhi Tewari and Pragya Kaushika titled We analysed 1,000 BJP leaders and found the party remains a Brahmin-Baniya Club. I have severe objections to this desperate need of Indian journalists and intellectuals to view and analyse anything and everything through the prism of caste.
Viewing organisations through a lens of caste is an extremely dangerous endeavour as the very subtext behind such an exercise is very divisive. It is such a divisive thought that we ought to fight against if we want to eradicate the caste system in India. The BJP and the RSS have been fighting against the caste system for decades and to see such an article was shocking. The timing of this article along with its divisive and dubious methodology makes it more questionable.
I believe that the article was a desperate attempt to divide society along the lines of caste and to instigate a section of the community against the BJP in the run-up to 2018 state elections, and the 2019 general elections.
ThePrint looked at the BJP only as an organisation but forgot to take into account the number of elected representatives that the party has from the backward classes — be it SC, ST or OBC. I fail to understand how one could analyse the world’s largest party by just looking at 1,000 leaders while ignoring the elected representatives that the party sends to the Parliament, state assemblies, municipal corporations and panchayats. This in itself proves that the sample was skewed and thus, biased and any analysis based upon such a sample cannot be relied upon.
Let me put the record straight: Analyse the BJP’s elected representatives across time — the party sends the maximum members of parliament from the SC, ST and OBC communities. But the BJP does not do it because they are SC, ST or OBC; it does it because it believes in equality of opportunity and picks candidates based upon whoever would be able to win the confidence of the people.
It may be an argument by ThePrint that elected houses have seats reserved for SC, ST but then the BJP as a percentage of total OBC elected representatives is a substantial percentage from OBC. One also needs to question why is it that on reserved seats, the BJP has a better strike rate than the others. It is because the BJP has empowered the backward classes over time, unlike other political parties of India. Remember, the BJP is the only party which has a fully functional SC, ST morcha.
Let us look at the caste-wise representation of the BJP in the Lok Sabha for the states of Bihar and UP.
A similar comparison can be done for all other states and we will find similar results. But as discussed, the BJP does not decide on the basis of caste and I have never witnessed or heard about any candidate being discriminated against on the basis of his/her caste or gender.
On the larger question of representation, I respond by highlighting the high percentage of SC, ST and OBC leaders in elected assemblies on BJP tickets. I then wonder does the BJP not empower and ensure that marginalised sections of society are adequately represented.
The article rightly mentioned that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of our country is an OBC but he has never used his caste for politics. The BJP has also had the privilege of nominating the late Dr Abdul Kalam, an able scientist and a true inspiration for the country, as India’s President. It was his ability that was considered more than his caste or religion while furthering his nomination.
Similarly, the BJP nominated a Dalit as the President of our country and a kisan as the vice-president. We’ve also given the nation several SC, ST and OBC leaders — Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti to name a few. The BJP does a great job of upliftment for the marginalised sections and it is demonstrated by the consistently high strike rate that the party enjoys thanks to the good work of our SC, ST morcha and the entire organisation as a whole.
This entire narrative is aimed at showing that the BJP is against the marginalised sections or that it doesn’t represent them much but the narrative is based on a skewed sample, a biased analysis based on inherent prejudices and preconceived notions. With a flawed methodology, I was bound to respond with facts and a robust analysis to demonstrate how the media has faltered in doing the job it was supposed to do. Rather than fight the caste system, such articles strengthen it and make it more rigid by dividing society.
As a concluding note, I ask ThePrint and my friends in the media, would they care to tell us what percentage of their employees come from SC, ST and OBC backgrounds? If the question seems too absurd then you get the point that I was trying to make in this article.
Bhasin is Director at Public Policy Research Centre, New Delhi.