A BJP MP from Uttarakhand has introduced a Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha as a Private Member Bill, to legally facilitate members of the Scheduled Caste Valmiki sect to become priests in Hindu temples if they wish to do so after receiving due training for the job.
The Valmikis are traditionally employed as manual scavengers. They derive their name from worshipping the Hindu sage Valmiki, who is believed to have authored the epic Ramayana.
The Bill, aimed at improving their lot, has received wide support from the Congress, the CPI (M), the Trinamool Congress and many other parties including members of the BJP.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Vijay said that it was a blot on Hindu society that the scourge of caste-based discrimination is still prevalent and the Valmikis, who are religiously faithful, are found engaging in manual scavenging in this day and age.
A question that hangs in the bargain is that abolishment of untouchability is on issue, but is it really proper for the state to pass a law that is in the ‘religious’ domain? Why should the law single out a particular caste for the status of priesthood? Isn’t the matter of consecrating priests a religious practice and as such, the state has no business poking around in that area?