For long, it was believed that Arjun Singh was the ultimate depth to which crass communalism and casteism in Indian politics could descend under UPA. Then, apologists for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used to claim that the apolitical gentleman economist was pained and disturbed that politics in 21st century India was getting to resemble the dark ages. But, it did not take long for Manmohan Singh to shed his initial rectitude and join the crowd of communal minded politicians.
It is shocking for the country because of the loftiness of the office he is holding. Speaking at the National Development Council he said the minorities, particularly the ?Muslims must have the first claim on resources?. He was emphasising on his government'sassessment of the 10th Plan implementation and listing priority areas for action. It is unbecoming of a Prime Minister to communalise economic initiatives and development strategies, however, pressing his political compulsions may be. This is so because any government in office should work for the entire country. The government in a democracy cannot distribute doles and discriminate citizens on the basis of religion or caste. What if another Prime Minister elected on a different political label asserts that Hindus will have the first claim on national resources?
In any other country, such an outrageous assertion as the one made by Manmohan Singh would have cost him his job. But, in India, political hyperbole and bravado on commitment to sectarian identities are taken as passe. The opposition was right in demanding an apology or at least withdrawal of Manmohan Singh'sstatement. But that the Prime Minister'sminority identification was a well thought out strategy became clear by the kind of boisterous support offered by his cabinet colleague Priyaranjan Dasmunsi and planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Which shows that the UPA is bent on dividing the country on communal lines. The BJP chief Rajnath Singh is right in accusing the UPA of behaving like the Muslim League under British India. The UPA is working on a viciously sinister agenda.
One of the first acts of the Manmohan government was to appoint the Sachar Committee to work on a patently divisive plank. It went to the extent of trying to communalise even the Indian Army and Judiciary, two highly regarded professional institutions in the country. This evoked unprecedented opprobrium, and for the first time in independent India'shistory, the chiefs of the three wings of the Army openly denounced the government action. The Prime Minister had to intervene to clear the air, and the controversy subsided for the time being. On the final report of the Sachar Committee, the Prime Minister is again working on reservations based on religion. This is ultra vires and goes against every tenet of the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow this kind of discrimination on caste or religious lines. A constitutionally formed government is duty bound to treat everybody equal on legal and policy issues.
Even by Congress standards Manmohan Singh'sprime ministership has touched a new low. Earlier our prime ministers used to exhort the countrymen to rise above caste, region and religion and be Indians first and everything else afterwards. For six decades after the independence our prime ministers used to work to inculcate the feeling of pride of being an Indian. Here is a Prime Minister who works overtime to violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution to divide and discriminate the countrymen on communal lines. And he, like his party by no means appears contrite over such dangerous perversion. His government is aggressively working towards a polarisation of votes by pursuing a policy of minorityism, encouraging social tension and disquiet. Had the Congress been really sincere about uplifting the minorities or ameliorating their lot, it would not have resorted to such tactless exhibitionism and poisonous promotion of reactionary ideas.
The Prime Minister has not only to be seen but act above partisan , communal considerations. He should be the custodian of trust, fair play and morality in public life. Manmohan Singh'sactions militate against all the established principles of a secular state. In fact, he is a shame in the high office, for he cannot inspire confidence or promote national unity.