pagdi politics

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Jun 2018 11:55:17

IT IS a matter of sheer shame that a senior political leader like Mr. Sharad Pawar should resort to venomous caste politics. He is trying to whip up casteist sentiment by stressing that in Maharashtra a Brahminical rule has descended by way of Chief Minister Mr. Devendra Fadnavis. He has called the Fadnavis regime a padgi government. And to make matters worse, Mr. Pawar has asked the rank and file of his Nationalist Congress Party to refrain from wearing pagdi, a popular Maharashtrian headgear. Though the pagdi has no casteist connotation, Mr. Pawar has tried to paint the headgear as a Brahminical wear and has talked disparagingly about it. This brazen reference to casteism to extract some political mileage is reprehensible by any standard, as it is coming from a man who advocates secularism as the fundamental principle of politics. 

Those who have watched political scenario in Maharashtra for the past 4-5 decades are aware fully of the caste element playing havoc in public affairs. This is equally true for almost all regions of the country. In the name of secularism, most political parties often resort to manipulation of casteist equations for vote-bank gains. Mr. Pawar has often played a lead role in this politics, so much so that he did not mind opposing the name of iconic historian Mr. B.M. ‘Babasaheb’ Purandare as the head of the Shivaji Memorial Committee. Mr. Pawar is also leading the movement for reservation for the Maratha community, which has no constitutional sanction or support. Despite this, Mr. Pawar has continued to play casteist politics all along. His appeal to his party cadres to refrain from wearing the Maharashrian pagdi since it represents the so-called Brahminical culture, is the latest of his casteist moves to create a social divide whose venomous effects will be seen and felt for a long time. This is something no cultured society can ever accept.

In fact, it is a misnomer that a Brahminical rule has descended on Maharashtra, as Mr. Pawar is never tired of accusing. That a few persons in the Government happen to be Brahmin by caste, does not mean that there is a Brahminical rule in the State. By any standard, the Devendra Fadnavis regime in Maharashtra is far more secular than any of the previous regimes in the State. It has taken not one single decision based on caste or divisive principles. Even in the Bhima-Koregaon case, the conduct of the Fadnavis Government has remained totally non-partisan. Yet, when a person of the seniority of Mr. Sharad Pawar makes clearly casteist statements of venomous nature, the cultured elements of the larger society feel sad and frustrated. They realise much to their disappointment that a purposeful political wedge is being driven through the otherwise united society. Even as he does all that, Mr. Pawar keeps mouthing secular slogans and messages in his appeals, as if to demonstrate how secular and non-partisan he is. However, the pagdi statement has exposed Mr. Pawar’s casteist designs that are totally reprehensible and completely abhorrent.
If he is really serio

us about promoting secular ideals, then Mr. Pawar must give up his casteist politics at once, and follow the path of a truly inclusive political path. But if he keeps insisting about his allegation of Brahminical regime in Maharashtra, it would be obvious to the people of the State and the country that Mr. Pawar follows double standards in his political ideology. In that case, Mr. Pawar can tell himself that he is following a disastrous path -- for himself as well as for the larger society. Of course, it must be said with a lot of sadness that there is a big section of the country’s political community following casteist political path with a purpose of dividing the society in political blocks that would act as vote-bank. But it must also be told to Mr. Pawar categorically, his brand of politics does not have future.