PATNA: Injecting a fresh churn into the country’s already heated sociopolitical discourse on caste, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Thursday demanded reservation in the selection of Sankaracharyas of the four main peethas of Hinduism.
Addressing RJD’s national executive conclave at Rajgir, Yadav slammed BJP’s “politics of fake Hindutva” and demanded that three of the four Sankaracharyas should be from Dalit, backward and tribal communities. He said his party would raise this issue in the coming months.
“We want reservation in selection of Sankaracharyas in the four peethas. We want that barring one Sankaracharya, the other three should be selected from Dalit, backward and tribal communities,” said Yadav. Before this, he spoke of the Puri Sankaracharya’s reported statement that Dalits should not be allowed to enter temples.
Describing Bihar as the “laboratory” of sociopolitical experiments, he said a campaign for selection of Sankaracharyas will be initiated by his party. He said BJP and its supporters were keen on “destroying communal harmony and dividing people on the basis of religion”. He urged RJD leaders and activists to remain alert and united to “foil BJP’s evil designs”.
“Today political stalwarts such as Ambedkar, Ram Manohar Lohia, Karpoori Thakur and Mahatma Gandhi are not around. This is why the responsibility lies on all of us to keep the country intact,” said Yadav in an hour-long speech.
Union minister of state for human resource development (HRD) Upendra Kushwaha supported Yadav’s call for reservation in selection of Sankaracharyas. “Selection should not be made on the basis of hereditary descent,” said Kushwaha, an MP from Bihar and president of Rastriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), an ally of BJP.
“This is laughable and mindless,” said Giriraj Singh, Union minister of state for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). “Lalu has spent all his political career dividing people on the basis of caste. Now he has stooped as low as demanding reservation for Sankaracharyas,” said Singh, an MP from Bihar’s Nawada. In another controversial statement, Yadav asked RJD supporters to “teach a lesson” to BJP leaders talking of cow protection. “Take all the old cows you find anywhere to the front doors of BJP leaders and tie them there. Then let them protect these cows,” said Yadav, adding that shoes many BJP leaders are wearing were made of cattle hide.