Controversial comments made at the Jaipur Literary Festival in January 2013

Political psychologist and cultural critique Ashis Nandy says that he stands by his controversial comments at the Jaipur Literary Festival in January 2013 and vowed that he was ready to ‘fight it out,’ in the courts.

Mr. Nandy’s comments during a panel discussion on “Republic of Ideas” at the Jaipur Literary Festival in January 2013 that most of the corrupt come from OBC and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had triggered a major controversy. Cases under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had been registered against Mr. Nandy.

Defends comments

Mr. Nandy who was in Guntur to address the B. Chandra Sekhar memorial lecture on “The Untamed Language of Dissent: A Guide to Rebellions in the world we have entered,” spoke to The Hindu exclusively on Sunday on a range of subjects, including corruption, caste in Indian politics and the communalisation of politics.

Defending his comments at JLF-2013, Mr. Nandy said, “The OBCs, SCs and STs constitute about 75 per cent of population and the Muslims are 19 per cent of population, according to a rough estimate. This class is tapping new opportunities, social mobility and a chance to take part in democratic politics. It’s self improvisation. They improve themselves and they improve their communities. What’s wrong in this?”, he asked.

But Mr. Nandy also said that though his comments during the discussion had been taken out of context by an anchor of a popular TV channel, he had never apologised.

“I am ready to face the courts and I am not a coward. Those (who booked cases against me) have been shying away from completing the investigation. I am 75 now and am on anticipatory bail,’’ Mr. Nandy said.

Interesting observations

His comments on influence of caste on politics are also interesting. “It is not correct to say that politics is getting influenced by caste, but caste is getting politicised. For instance, people sought reservations by claiming to be from ‘Kshatriya’ community. In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati stitched up a coalition of Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins on the basis of ‘mutual give and take.’

He goes on to say that no ideology is skin deep as caste. “You colour ideology with caste and community. People like NTR and MGR proved that they could win elections,’’ Mr. Nandy said.

Mr. Nandy who had fought against BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, said; “It is a tribute to Indian democracy that a man like Mr. Modi is adapting a secular stance and talking about the welfare of 1.2 billion. Do I trust him? I can’t say that now.’’

Nauseating trend

He further went on to air his displeasure on the “vulgarity of Indian politics,” and said that ‘no act is more obscene that parties blaming each other for communal riots. “The moment Congress picks up Modi for 2002 Gujarat riots, the others rake up 1984 anti-sikh riots. Nothing is more vulgar and nauseating than this,’’ he said.

Mr. Nandy also said that he believes that the verdict in the general elections would be a fractured one and pointed out opinion polls have showed that the popularity of Mr. Modi has been declining due to the emergence of newer parties like the AAP.

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