Congress MP Naveen Jindal explains to Neha Dixit why he is duty-bound to give the khap panchayats of his constituency a patient hearing
You said you will take the khap panchayats’ demand to Parliament. Why have you extended your support to the extra-constitutional khap panchayats?
Unfortunately, I have been misquoted in many places. As their elected representative, I had only given a patient hearing to a congregation of village elders and, on their request, felt duty-bound to convey their sentiments and viewpoint to my seniors in the party.
You said marriages within the same gotra (sub-castes) are ‘social ills’. Aren’t you propagating orthodoxy?
My praise for the panchayats was strictly confined to the positive and good contributions they have made historically to society and I asked them to take up specific issues, such as female foeticide, dowry and drug addiction, for which I had assured them of my support.
Khaps are themselves not based on the Hindu gotra system. They are formed randomly. How will you check the authenticity of the ‘same gotra’ claim?
There is no question of my checking the authenticity of the same gotra. Regarding this issue, I have only heard the viewpoint of the village elders, who are very traditional and opinionated on the issue. They have requested me, as their elected representative, to pass their sentiments on to higher authorities.
Khaps have banned marriages within the same village. What is your response?
I wish to clarify that I have in no way supported or legitimised any wrongdoings by any of the panchayats. I merely assured them that I would communicate their views to the appropriate forum if their views were within the ambit of the law and in the larger interest of society.
Are you against love marriages? What if two people belonging to the same gotra fall in love?
It is for two adults to decide if they wish to marry and live together in the institution of marriage.
It is for two adults to decide if they wish to marry and live together in the institution of marriage
Khaps have hijacked the fundamental rights of the people by not only issuing diktats for killing those who marry in the same gotra, but even banning cricket and music. What is your stand on this?
I am vehemently opposed to ghastly actions like honour killings and, for that matter, any extra-judicial activity which defies the law of the land or forces one’s ideology on others. As far as the ‘diktats’ are concerned, this is baseless. Cricket, and other games and sports as well as music, continues to be played in my constituency without fear or fret. In fact, I often distribute cricket kits to various schools and clubs.
Many critics believe that politicians extend support to khap panchayats for electoral gains. How are you any different from the rest?
In my political life thus far, I am driven by the principle that what is morally wrong cannot be politically right. Hence, I have no political mileage to extract. As far as my support to the khap panchayat is concerned, it is only in as much as assuring them of communicating their requests and sentiments to the powers that be, if their requests fall within the ambit of law.