The current BJP Presidential nominee called Islam and Christianity “alien to India” when arguing that Christian and Muslim Dalits, more commonly known as untouchables, should not receive equal treatment as Hindu Dalits. This nomination has, once again, shown religious minorities in India that the current government cares little for the troubles faced by their communities. For Dalits across India, castism continues to be a major issue of discrimination, locking some families into a generational cycle of poverty. For Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits, the government provides protections and benefits set up to counter this discrimination. For Christian and Muslim Dalits, the government does nothing due to their religious identity.
06/21/2017 India (Business Standard) – “Islam and Christianity are alien” to India, NDAs Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind said seven years ago when he was just appointed a BJP spokesperson.
Kovind, then a little known BJP leader, addressed a press conference at the BJP headquarters here on March 26, 2010, sought that the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, which had recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts among the Scheduled Castes, be “scrapped” and called the move “unconstitutional”.
Asked then by an IANS correspondent as to how Sikh Dalits could enjoy the quota privilege in the same category, he responded, “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation.”
A Supreme Court ruling on March 25 that year had upheld the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to allow four per cent job quota for backward Muslims.
The proposed reservation for backward Muslims was a burning issue then as the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by Justice Misra, former Chief Justice of India, had in a report recommended that backward Muslim and Christian converts should be accorded Scheduled Castes status and given a quota.
Kovind, an RSS loyalist who worked for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, said the Misra Committee recommendations were not possible to implement.
“Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional,” the lawyer-turned-politician said.
Dalit quota privilege in the country is presently only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. And the then Congress-led government had flirted with the idea of extending the reservation to Dalit Christians and Muslims under the Scheduled Castes category. But this triggered a vociferous opposition from the BJP.