BJP Member of Parliament and Dalit leader Udit Raj does not mince his words. Today’s Bharat Bandh, he said, was designed to divide society and hence anti-national, he fumes. The ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by Dalit organisations on April 2 was not directed against any segment of society, he says to National Herald. “Their anger and frustration was directed against a Supreme Court ruling and the Union Government’s failure to represent the case adequately before the apex court,” the MP asserts before condemning Monday’s Bharat Bandh called against ‘reservation’ .
Excerpts from a conversation Udit Raj had with National Herald’s Bhasha Singh:
Why do you say Monday’s Bharat Bandh was anti-national?
Because upper castes dominate everywhere. Starting from the media to the judiciary, from bureaucracy, services to business, how many Dalits can you find ? They are nowhere. Everywhere the upper castes are dominant. One would have expected them to be generous, having done so well for themselves. But no, they seem to be so petty that they are unwilling to share an inch of the space. How can any nation prosper if the majority of the people are suppressed ? After all, they are the consumers and constitute a major market force as well.
Watch of video of the interview below:
What will be the impact of Monday’s Bandh?
It will help consolidate the unity of Dalits and OBCs and lead to further polarisation of society. The ill-advised Bandh will boomerang. It is a Frankenstein that the upper castes will regret having created.
How do you explain the large number of Ambedkar statues which are being vandalised?
They are scared of Babasaheb Ambedkar. It was Dr Ambedkar who had challenged Brahminical institutions and the law laid down in Manusmriti. Even after so many years, the challenge they face is mostly from followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar. That is why the statues are bearing the brunt of their hatred. That’s why so many of his statues are being vandalised.
But Bharatiya Janata Party, which has 40 Dalit MPs, claims to have the interests of the Dalits at heart…
I would only like to point out that it’s a myth that just because a political party has more Dalit MPs, the party necessarily enjoys the support of Dalits. In no constituency do Dalit votes exceed 20 or 25% of the voters. Nobody gets elected even from reserved seats with votes from Dalits alone. Indeed the victory from reserved seats is engineered by other forces. Those who make such simplistic assessments are divorced from reality and have little connect with the ground. Dalits actually win with the votes from supporters of essentially anti-Dalit parties.
Udit Raj: “They (upper castes) are unable to accept that people who would not dare look up to them and always sit at their feet earlier are now demanding equality and opportunity”
How do you explain the simmering anger among Dalits? After all the BJP and Prime Minister Modi’s favourite slogan has been ‘Sakba Saath, Sabka Vikas’ …
Several factors have contributed to this. Increasing privatisation, decline in the number of openings in the Government, joblessness, vacant posts getting filled by general candidates, the denial of scholarship in universities and of course the last straw was the Supreme Court’s ruling designed to dilute the provisions of the SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. That is why the April 2 Bandh was leaderless but had large participation by the youth.
But why was there so much anger and violence on that day?
For the first time, Dalits faced resistance and bullets on that day. Dalits do not oppose when others hit the street. But this time when the Dalits hit the street, the upper castes opened fire and put up a resistance. The most brazen attacks were carried out in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. It has been now established that Dalits there were killed by bullets fired by upper caste men, not the police.
Dalits are still being tortured and harassed there. I do not support violence of any kind. But Dalits are being implicated in false cases everywhere.
Why do you think there is such contempt, or would you call it hatred,against Dalits?
They (upper castes) are unable to accept that people who would not dare look up to them and always sit at their feet earlier are now demanding equality and opportunity. Their dominance is threatened and Dalits and OBCs are seen as eating away part of the pie that they have enjoyed for so long. This bandh will be a bhasmasur (self destruction button) as it will consolidate Dalits and pave way for the unity of backward classes.