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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

November 28, 2008

Remembering Mandal Cha Raja

Like the Lalbaug cha Raja, a massive idol of Lord Ganesh that is installed in Mumbai every year, this raja of Manda strode tall in the political space in the late 80s & early 90s with his mandal plank of providing 27% reservations to OBC in Govt Jobs in India. I have distinct recollection of the not so happy memories of my college days when this issue erupted & how? And at the center of it was its chief protagonist, VP Singh who died yesterday.

Come to think of it, he heralded the defining moments of Indian political space which had begun to emerge out of one party dominance in India. The Mandal & Mandir issues gripped mass psyche on either sides of the political spectrum almost at the same time. The mandalization of politics, as I recollect inflamed passions & created mass student appraisal like never seen before. The immolation of Rajeev Goswami in Delhi at that time really captured the popular sentiment among the youths of that period. The forces of Liberalization had not yet been unleashed, and for many students like me, Government jobs were a logical career aspiration. But in one stroke it appeared that VP Singh took all the dreams away. I have never seen, before or after , the vigorousness of the uprising and vociferous protests by the students & masses. The main street of Belgaum was a sea of humanity protesting & marching to the Deputy commissioners office on the day of protest & submitting the memorandum. The scene was replicated in almost every small & big city in India at that time. As the College Miscellany secretary , I led a bunch of protesters shutting down classes in RLS Institute & Lingaraj college at that time. And in the process I ran into the fiery & feared teacher Prof.Malali who was taking his classes. Instead of scowling & firing me , which he was notorious for, he told me come on to the class stage (the old Lingaraj college had classes with a raised platform for teachers) & express whatever angst I had, and in no uncertain terms. He was not ready to disperse his class and I had no options.

Waves & waves of similar protests erupted from every city in India, big or small. It was as though there was another mass uprising in the country after the Quit India movement but this time against the Government & its policies.VP Singh faded away soon after, ill health gripped him which some attribute to the moral & mental baggage that he carried from this misadventure. A tinge of mixed nostalgia remains through his death.
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