Friday, December 11, 2009

Row over Ranganath Mishra Commission report in Rajya Sabha: 'Silent' Muslim MPs stand and speak

Senior journalist Santosh Bhartiya's hard-hitting articles in his weekly newspaper Chauthi Duniya kicked up a storm and some Members of Parliament [MPs] got so agitated that they succeeded in getting a privilege notice issued against him.

The RS members--Ali Anwar, Sabir Ali, R Prasad and Aziz Pasha--were angry with the writer for using words like 'napunsak' [impotent] and 'shakti-vihin' [powerless] among others.

But the result of the reports published in consecutive issues of the newspaper was that the MPs who generally remain silent, had to speak up and the government that had kept the Ranganathan Mishra panel report under wraps for years, had to announce that it would be tabled in the current session of parliament.

Two years back, former Chief Justice Ranganathan Mishra had submitted this report on the status of religious and cultural minorities in the country but it was swept under the carpet. The report states that non-inclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits in the category of Scheduled Castes that are entitled to job reservations, tantamounts to religious discrimination which is against he spirit of constitution. However, the stinging series of articles led to ruckus in Rajya Sabha and PM Manmohan Singh had to accept the demand to table it. It is noteworthy that had already published the entire report.

Read translation of the article published in the Hindi newspaper:

The members of Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of parliament, comprise of intellectuals, legal luminaries, constitution experts and eminent citizens chosen among senior leaders and public figures. It is felt that they would at least share a similar concern over the basic problems facing the nation and they would act as guardians of democracy rather than dalaals [power brokers].

But Rajya Sabha has become an assembly of the weaklings who can't raise voice or save the rights of the voiceless Indian citizen. Ranganath Mishra Commission was constituted before Sachar panel. Christian organisations had approached the Supreme Court that Dalits, irrespective of their religious affiliation should get the benefit of reservation and subsequently on SC verdict, the commission was constituted as per Commission of Inquiry Act.

Though its report came after Sachar panel submitted its findings, the truth is that findings of the Ranganath Mishra commission report are an eye-opener. When the report was not tabled in parliament, the Chief Information Commisioner was approached. However, CIC's directive to the government was ignored and the Central govt went to court against the CIC order. It seems that the government is trying to hoodwink the Apex Court.

November 24 would be remembered as Black Day in the history of Upper house as members sought that the report be tabled but it was not accepted. Twice the house was adjourned and then the members were given just two minutes each to speak. They said that the report had already been published in media, then why it is not being tabled.

The Speaker was sitting on the chair first [later it was deputy speaker]. He comes from the same section but it seems after reaching this post, the Speaker has distanced himself from the poor and the weaker sections. Else, he could have easily directed the government to explain when the report would be tabled.

The same day PC Chidambaram had presented the Liberhan commission report in the lower house. It had also been leaked two days back and published in a paper. Why Ranganath Misra commission report was not tabled then? There is a fine difference that needs to be understood.

Liberhan commission was related to an emotive issue. However, Ranganathan commission report deals with the real situation at the grassroots in this country. By raising emotional issue, Congress wanted to put BJP in the dock. Ironically the party's role itself came under scanner. After all, in 1992 it was a Congress PM [PV Narasimharao] who was at the helm at Delhi.

The tabling of Liberhan commission report has benefited BJP, that was appearing to be a divided house until recently. Had the Rajya Sabha chairperson ordered tabling the Justice Ranganath Mishra commission report in Rajya Sabha, it would have opened the doors of reservation to the Dalits among Muslims and Christians.

How much more these Dalit Muslims and Christians will have to suffer and sacrifice? The speaker will be responsible for their misery.....................
..................the Rajya Sabha members must realise their responsibility that they are sent to parliament by the powerless and poor to raise their voice. Do the RS members have any courage or conviction left, that they can force the government to table the report? If not, you must apologise to the nation.

[Courtesy: Chauthi Duniya Hindi weeky]

In the translated excerpts above, the words have been diluted. The MPs were upset and sought action against the journalist. However, the other result of the newspaper reports was that the same MPs did speak vociferously. Other parties including Samajwadi Party also joined in. Even the BJP demanded explanation and the opposition forced PM to state that the panel report would be tabled in this session.

Interestingly, once again the Congress' Muslim leaders remained silent. Ali Anwar, Sabir Ali and Aziz Pasha are MPs representing JDU, Lok Jana Shakti Party (LJP) and Communist Party of India (CPI). The movement for reservation for Pasmanda Muslims is strongest in Bihar.

[After independence Dalits or SCs who had for centuries suffered discrimination from Upper Castes were given benefits of reservation in jobs. However, a constitutional amendment was later made and neo-Buddhists were also extended the benefit. However, Muslim and Christian Dalits remained deprived.

The movement to get them reservation began in late 80s and gathered steam over the years. The NCRLM inquiry commission popularly known as Ranganath Misra commission was set up in 2005 and submitted its report two years later. Since then it has been in cold storage. ]

Read excerpts of the report at TCN