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Amidst climate of hate, none cares to remember VP Singh, not even his family

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

 It was former Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh's birthday on June 25. He would have turned 93 on this day. A man of great idealism and conviction, VP changed the politics of power in India that became more inclusive in terms of participation and representation of the marginalised in our highest decision making bodies. 
Humble and polite, he was a man easily accessible to all. In today's political climate of hatred, bigotry and mistrust, he would have been an ideal person to bring all forces of social justice and secularism together. Political leaders should go through his old speeches and the vilification campaign he went through when he resigned from the Rajiv Gandhi's' cabinet and later expelled from the Congress.
Bigger vilification happened when he got the Mandal Commission Report accepted in Parliament. He was a victim of hatred and yet it never expressed any sign of anger  in his speeches and behaviour. He was exceptionally measured and articulate in his responses and never targeted anyone personally.
The Brahmanical middle classes of India hated him to the core because he remained committed to the idealism of social justice. Even when we saw 2024 elections and the agenda of social justice being spoken by all, Congress and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, the irony is, both these parties despised him. 
The man who dedicated his huge land to the landless, who gave Baba Saheb Ambedkar along with Nelson Mandela Bharat Ratna, who installed Baba Saheb's' life size portrait in Parliament, who allowed reservation for scheduled caste converts to Buddhism and who ultimately sacrificed his life to protect Babari Masjid in October 1991, hardly finds any mention. 
VP fought against corruption at the higher level. He was the person who proposed the name of Dr KR Narayanan , first as Vice President and then as President of India. None remembers his contribution in working for slum dwellers and ensuring they get ration cards and other facilities. 
It is also rarely remembered that as a finance minister of India, he started operation clean up in the financial sector, and that resulted in arrest and notices of various industrialists. We all remember him for providing a 27% quota for the OBCs.
There is not a single memorial, lane or museum, school or college in VP's name in India. Last year, Tamilnadu Chief Minister MK Stalin organised a big programme in the memory of VP Singh to unveil his life size statue in Chennai but that apart none of social justice parties bother to remember him in North India.
V P's conts has not been fully recognised. His writings, poetry and political actions should be studied and taught in the schools and colleges. There are very few good books on him. 
I got an opportunity to visit his Manda Fort recently (video). I was saddened to see that a beautiful heritage building was allowed to be ruined by his own family. He belonged to two places, Dahiya and Manda. We can complain that the Brahmanical elite, insensitive governments are not bothered about his contribution, but why can't his family develop a memorial at Manda?
How is it possible for any political party to ignore VP Singh and his enormous contribution in social and political life in Uttar Pradesh, when social justice is going to be an important slogan of political parties in the coming days. Will they wake up and speak up for the man who did not impose his children and family in politics ? 
Can Manda Fort be developed into a Memorial of VP Singh and his idealism of social justice and humanism? Let us hope family, friends and admirers of VP Singh will think about this and act to keep his memory alive.
*Human rights defender



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