By Martin Macwan
Praveen Rashtrapal is no more. A short political career of his life as a member of both the upper and lower house of the Parliament was remarkable. The media has not taken much notice of him on the occasion of his demise.
Every person in public life has some controversy and Praveenbhai had them too when he confronted sitting Judge of the Gujarat High Court, Justice Pardiwala for his observations on the ‘Reservation’ as also Hardik Patel on ‘Reservation’ for Patidars by suggesting ‘inter-caste marriages’ between Patidar and Dalits as a floor test for equality. Personally I have different views on both the matters.
However, my friendship with Praveen Rashtrapal has gone a long way and I have always admired him for his fearlessness and uprightness. During the UN world conference against Racism, even though when the National Congress Party to which be belonged to, was against the inclusion of ‘Caste’ on the final agenda of the UN conference, Praveen Rashtrapal stood in the favour of the issue with the community.
This is even when India under UPA I led by Dr. Man Mohan Singh sent a delegation of seven Member of Parliamentarians to the Durban conference including Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde to discourage the attention and discussion the subject of ‘Caste Discrimination’ was receiving world wide. Praveen Rashtrapal had addressed a large public meeting in Durban on the issue with many world leaders.
A prominent human rights activist was denied visa to India for her association with ‘Dalit’ as a human right issue. It was Praveen Rashtrapal who wrote a letter of recommendation for her to Government of India. He was sad and had often expressed it that people do not make much use of his position as a Member of Parliament for Public good. Praveen Rashtrapal was always present on stage whenever invited on any public issue affecting the rights of the marginalized communities.
I have come across in three and half decade public life career with many Dalit Politicians who for their political loyalty have acted against the interests of their own community and have gone to the extent of denying the prevalence of ‘Untouchability’ and ‘Manual Scavenging’ in Gujarat and India. Praveen Rashtrapal was different as he always stood for the rights of the marginalized.