I think this is the worst situation that the country has faced since the Hindu-Muslim riots immediately after Independence. And there is no Mahatma Gandhi to save us this time.
Mr. V.P. Singh is not the man for the occasion. Even if he was, he is too involved in the issue to be of any use; the very sight of him upsets the anti-reservations. It is strange how much he has fallen in the public esteem in such a short time. If Rajiv Gandhi's fall from grace was amazing, Mr. Singh's is astounding.
The crisis, indeed, is the worst faced y the country. Worse than the riots of Jawaharlala Nehru's Linguistic states. There, at least there was room to bargin and accommodate. And nobody can today dany the wisdom of dividing the states on linguistic lines.
The biggest danger of the present crisis is that it is not politically motivated. It is an upsurge of people's emotions. What we had always feared has finally happened; except that instead of a class war, it has become a caste war.
In Delhi and all over the north, though fortunately not in other parts of the country, the people have taken to the streets. Ordinary middle-class people, students worried about their future, which in any case does not exist for most of them, housewives with stones in their hands and anger in their eyes. It may be a little early to say so, but it does look like finally the people are revolting. The people's revolution has arrived.
What is frightening is that there are no leaders in this revolutions. No L.K. Advani vs. Sharad Yadav. There is nobody to invite to sit and discuss, the prime minister is appealing to an empty wall.
And nobody is instigating anybody. When a young student takes poison or burns himself or tries to drown himself, he or she is taking his own life. He has not been put up to do so, no matter what one or two newspapers may claim.
And the newspapers have failed to focus the great tragedy that is being enacted all over the north. They are trating it as another politically instigated crisis by Mr. V.P. Singh's friends and rivals. And with each self-immolation incident, they give figures: 50 per cent burns, 75 per cent burns, 90 per cent burns, as if it is a game score.
What is most required now is a gesture. And the first gesture should be that Mr. V.P. Singh should resign.