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Media 'commitment' for money? VP Singh, as seen by MK Stalin, on top daily's page 1

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 
It was a pleasant surprise to see former Prime Minister VP Singh on the front pages of the the so-called mainstream media. Though they would never have given him space, an advertisement provided by the Tamil Nadu government that did the job. Indeed,  controlled by dominant castes, the media is ready to do anything for cash. That is its commitment. 
I was amazed to see the front page of "Dainik Jagaran", whom many criticise for taking  communal and hate-mongering stance. It is known to have abused VP Singh, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav in the aftermath of the government’s decision to implement Mandal Commission Report. 
It is another thing that Mulayam Singh Yadav compromised and sent the owner of "Dainik Jagaran", Narendra Mohan, to Rajya Sabha. It was not without reason that this newspaper along with others, ignored the passing away of VP Singh in Delhi on November 27, 2008 as they were busy reporting on the Mumbai terrorist attack. 
While the dominant caste media and casteist Brahmanical leaders of both BJP and Congress may have a point in ignoring VP Singh, because he brought the issue of social justice onto the mainstream, the silence and ignorance of those who enjoyed the fruits of power from his policies -- Lalu Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan -- was bewildering. 
However, the real strength to VP Singh came from K Karunanidhi, whose party DMK organised a massive rally in favour of the Mandal Commission Report when North Indian leaders were still calculating pros and cons of his politics.
More than 35 years have passed since VP Singh relinquished his power, but he remains  essential for the politics of social justice and secularism. Unfortunately, the social justice parties of North India started ignoring VP Singh in order to woo savarna votes. In order to please the Brahmins and Banias in particular, the Samajwadi Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav went out of the way to give them plum posts. The dominant caste journalists always enjoyed the curtsy of the Samajwadi Party. 
Can you imagine, a person who was twice chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, a finance minister of the country, President of Uttar Pradesh Congress, Defence Minister, and last but not the least, the Prime Minister of India, does  not have even a memorial in his name?  
We have a big memorial for Sanjay Gandhi without him being any minister, but we don’t have anything for a man who altered the political discourse of the country. While the Congress and the BJP can be faulted for this, it is disappointing that even Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and the Samajwadi Party in UP never bothered about it. 
As for the Congress’ Brahmanical secular-liberals, they have never had time for remembering VP Singh, as most of them hated him for Mandal ‘sin’.
The problem with the Congress is that it refuses to learn any lessons. Rajiv Gandhi supported VP Singh when BJP withdrew support, but criticised the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report on the floor of the house. It was an extremely bad decision. Mandal was an opportunity which the Congress lost.
Years later, Rahul Gandhi is talking of caste census, but not a single Congress leader has repeated it. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah has supported it but one does not see the same enthusiasm from Kamal Nath. In fact, even Rahul Gandhi as also other Congress leaders have no time to speak a few good things about VP Singh.  
The Congress acted like the BJP after VP Singh was forced to quit. The Brahmanical leaders of the Congress right from Kalpanath Rai to Ratnakar Pandey and KK Tiwari were let loose against VP Singh. The media was misused shamelessly (a pattern that BJP is diligently following now) to target VP Singh. So much so that MJ Akbar, a favorite of Rajiv Gandhi, was asked to write a false story about VP Singh’s bank account in St Kitts. 
Whatever be the political repercussions, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s one action has made the entire event historical. MK Stalin has proved that he is far more mature than his contemporaries, whether in the Congress or in other social justice forces. 
Tamil Nadu has given due respect to and acknowledged the role played by VP Singh. The Dravidian government has put VP Singh in the company of Dr BR Ambedkar, Ramaswamy Periyar, Annadurai and Karunanidhi. Stalin’s action has made the leaders who have enjoyed power in North India look too small. 
VP Singh was Prime Minister for 11 months but his actions actually shook the power structure. It was he, as Prime Minister and man in power, who respected and acknowledged Ambedkar’s contribution to our country and not only gave Bharat Ratna to him along with Nelson Mandela, but also installed Ambedkar's portrait inside Parliament, which was ironically not there. 
There is a need to ponder: Shouldn't our Parliament have the portrait of VP Singh inside Parliament? Let the social justice forces make a big monument in the memory of VP Singh as a fitting tribute to the man who was once termed as ‘Raja nahi faqeer hai, desh ki taqdeer hai’. VP Singh certainly deserves better from all of us who believe in social justice and secularism.
*Human rights defender. Facebook: X:  @freetohumanity. Skype: @vbrawat



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