Why cast Prez in caste?
When Rahul Gandhi presented Sam Pitroda as a vishkarma (a backward caste) at a public rally in UP’s backward district Akbarpur during the recent assembly election, the country was amused if not shocked.
Somehow people couldn’t connect the two. It was, in fact, highly preposterous on Gandhi’s part to give the highly talented guy a caste. Not that the poor villagers knew Pitroda’s contribution to the country, and they were hardly motivated by his caste to vote for the Congress. Sayanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, someone who is highly known for innovations, someone who worked for improving knowledge related institutions and infrastructure suddenly found his image narrowed down to a caste. That was not it, Rahul yet again invoked caste — this time taking about his own illustrious political family– Gandhi became a Brahmin when he told party workers, “I am a Brahmin and national general secretary of the party.” The party was doing post-mortem of UP elections.
For those who don’t remember what Rahul Gandhi had said about Pitroda, here it is. He said 20 years ago when his late father and prime minister decided to bring mobile phones to the country, he had thought of Sam Pitroda. The guy who brought mobile phones to your village was a Vishkarma, a ‘Barahi’ (carpenter). I fail to understand why a caste colour should be given to those who have merit tagged to their names.
Politicians are once again trying to add religion to Abdul Kalam’s name, but he is known more as the ‘Missile Man’ and not so much as a Muslim. I doubt if people revere him world over because he is a Muslim. Nowhere in his public behaviour has he displayed his religion ever. It is something very private.
Isn’t it sad that his name has once again come in circulation for the presidential elections in the country only because he happens to be an apolitical Muslim and not because of his integrity, his immense knowledge and contribution to the country. Sometime back when he had visited Hindustan Times office he had declined a small gesture of a gift with, ‘Why should you give me? If I need I will buy it.’ Not many politicians would do that.
Why we can’t for once shelve caste or religion in the election of the President of the country? Let the selection or election be based purely on merit, nothing else. Caste has been one of the criteria for the selection of the chief ministers by various political parties , but thankfully it has not been the case while choosing the prime minister. Then why can’t the warring parties evolve a consensus on a name – keeping only merit and integrity as the qualifications. Can we all rise above narrow caste considerations to get the finest of the President to the country? Once parties realise that it would not fetch them votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, they might actually surprise us!