The dalit factor in Indian polity 

THE HANS INDIA |   Aug 03,2016 , 04:10 AM IST

Dalit Factor

Dalit Factor

“Recently seven of our family members were flogged by the Hindutva Parivar’s Gau Rakshak Sangh…..15 of my Dalit brothers have tried to commit suicide…one lost his life….We want justice not financial assistance,” averred Balu a Dalit worker. Their crime? Skinning the carcass of a dead cow in Gujarat’s Una district.

“Ek vaishya se bhi badtar charitra ki aaj Mayawati ho gayi hain. Woh kisi ko one crore mein ticket deti hain, koi 2 crore dene wala milta hai toh usey ticket deti hain, shaam ko koi 3 crore dene ko taiyyar hota hai toh ushe de deti hain.” said BJP UP Vice President Daya Shankar Singh. Thereby unleashing a revolting chain of events: “I will reward Rs 50 lakhs to anyone who brings me Singh’s tongue”, countered a BSP worker.

Adding fuel to fire, another called Singh’s daughter an “illegitimate child” culminating in the BSP bringing Capital Lucknow to a standstill, Singh’s wife filed an FIR and Behenji Mayawati anointing herself as ‘Devi’. Stray angry voices, cries for help or rank hatred? All this and more. Alas, even as I write the vicious and virulent slanging match between your caste vs. my caste and mera dharam vs tumhara dharam continues. What else, stupid! Which trashes promises of equality and blots pledges of development.

Undoubtedly, the more India changes, it remains the same whereby the past continues to survive and thrive in the present. Today, caste has cast a long shadow over Indian politics. The scepter that haunts the nation is not of class struggle but caste struggle.“Backwards” and “Forwards” are more meaningful than the Left and the Right in politics.

Certainly, these two incidents have snowballed into a political controversy with the BJP worried over how these would impact its prospects in the forthcoming State elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab next year. In Gujarat, a massive uprising of Dalits has exposed the fault lines in the Party’s model of governance, threatening to strike at the very edifice of the assiduously built Modi-style of governance. In UP, despite BJP’s attempts to reach out to Dalits and artificially assimilate them into its Hindutva fold, a blowback by the community has led to panic among its leadership.

Notably, given that the Dalits form a crucial vote bank in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, constituting more than 20 per cent and 32 per cent respectively of the population, any wonder our Parties are desperate. All are falling over each other in positioning Ambedkarism as the ideological alternative to Gandhism as vote-banks on caste lines are easuer to build.

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Maharashtra to Manipur communal and caste explosions and exploitations rule the roost. Wherein, this C2 has become the most luscious mistress to be measured through the prism of power glass politics. With parties defining it according to its own warped and selfish needs.

Not just that. With everyone propounding their won recipes of communal and caste harmony, the nation is getting sucked into the vortex of centrifugal bickering. So caught up are our leaders in their frenzied pursuit of political nirvana through separatism that they confuse themselves. Touch any sphere of national life -- - political, social, economic, administrative, educational and judicial. The cancerous C2 has already spread into its vitals. Tragically, bringing things to such a pass whereby everything today has degenerated into the caste paradigm. 

Mandalistation of politics and the emergence of the Dalit-OBC- Muslim combine in electoral politics brought about a sea changed in our polity. Wherein it is now polarized on a caste basis with elections being fought on caste considerations. In fact, voters are regressively but decisively voting along caste lines. This social engineering via the ballot has become its mainstay. After all, why should the Brahmins and  Thakurs, a mere 15 per cent of the vote bank, rule the roost? In other words, political consciousness today terminates at the caste and community level.

Consequently, this social chasm widened with the emergence of the “Made in India” leaders like Lalu, Mulayam and Mayawati. If Lalu kid gloved the forwards with his massive backward following, Mulayam played his Yadav and Muslim card to the hilt in Government and judicial appointments. Mayawati revealed in “transfer Raj”, replacing many upper caste officers by Dalit officials.

Thereby, giving the rootless down-trodden a new identity and attitudinal changes. Think. Clearly, our leaders are either unable or unwilling to break out of the caste mould. In the long run, this is bound to increase dissatisfaction all around. By making noises and finding a scapegoat, our polity runs the risk of changing major political alignments on caste lines.

Forgetting that it is equally dangerous to indulge in the ongoing political power games passed on caste rivalries. By that token, the whole social reform movement will become meaningless. It is clear that if political consciousness terminates at the caste level, divisive caste combinations will continue to dominate Indian politics.

Granted it will be suicidal not to take cognizance of the new found political aspirations of the backward castes. At the same time, it is equally dangerous to indulge in the ongoing political power games based on caste and communal considerations. Against this backdrop there is only one solution. Truce between the netagan and their progenies. The time has come to undergo catharsis a course in emptive cleansing and in cementing a cohesive society, a time for an honest soul-searching. 

By Poonam I Kaushish

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