What is the status of Dalits in India by this August 15, 2018, which is 71st year of India’s Independence? The Dalits constitute about 180 million people. A section of them voted for the BJP because Narendra Modi promised them development and good treatment. In Kerala, in a meeting in memory of famous Dalit leader Ayyankali, Modi as a prime ministerial candidate, declared that if he becomes the PM that decade will be declared as Dalit/OBC decade. A section of Dalits believed him and voted for the BJP as a party. Historically, the Dalit vote was that of the Congress. But in 2014, the BJP took away quite a lot of Dalit votes.
The OBCs moved away from the Congress quite long time back after Mandal movement because the Congress under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi did not support OBC reservation. Even after the Congress remained in power for about 15 years after Rajiv’s death (PV Narasimha Rao term and two terms of UPA), the party did not make one OBC person, who happened to pro-Mandal, the President of India or Vice-President of India. On the contrary, it made KR Narayanan the first Dalit President. Even then, the Dalits moved away from the Congress and the OBCs did not get closer.
However, the Dalits thought that under Modi’s leadership, they will get a much better deal than they got in the Congress rule. But within no time, the rank and file of the BJP have shown their true colours by bringing stringent cow protection laws in all the states, which directly hit the Dalit economy. The Brahmin-Baniya intellectuals strategised the cow protection issue as Hindu spiritual sentimental issue and its ranks at the lower level organised squads that started attacking Dalits on the pretext that Dalits were trading in cows in violation of cow protection laws. More than Muslims, who also became victims of this theory of “cow protection” and human lynching, the Dalit economy crashed.
The Brahminical legal network of the BJP started filing cases against reservation in promotions, to change the roster reservation in the universities and finally the case against the SC/ST Atrocity Act was taken to the Supreme Court. The rest is a known story. But where did the injection of fear during the BJP rule among Dalits take its worst turn? It took a serious fearsome turn with the April 2018 Dalit Bharat Bandh and the pro-BJP private armies firing on the Dalit mobs. This was the first public shooting of Dalits with firearms. Earlier, there were organised atrocities, including killing men and women, burning down houses and so on.
During the BJP/RSS regime, the question of granting equal rights to the historically oppressed untouchables, who are being defined as Hindu, by the same forces who are against Ambedkar’s wish and theory of religion does not arise. They hate Dalits because they are claiming the Buddhist roots as against the OBCs and general Shudras who still operate as Hindu under the suzerainty of Brahminism. The BJP/RSS are determined to protect the Brahmin- Bania control of all spheres. However, the OBCs and other Shudras do not have an alternative philosophy and ideology which the Dalits have. The Brahmin/Bania forces working in the BJP ranks do not want to lose that suzerainty. Ambedkar for them has become a huge thinker who became a pain in the neck.
The Brahmin-Bania forces that were working in other national parties had the same feeling about Ambedkar and it is not still an unresolved issue among them too. The caste connections are very strong in India irrespective of the party that they belong to. Since the BJP has become an alternative national ruling party, the very same forces work from that platform, though persons may differ.
Rajya Sabha is the platform for these forces from all political parties. Earlier, they used to enter Rajya Sabha even from the Congress platform and hold big ministerial posts and drive the nation from their ideological position. Now in the BJP, many Brahmin–Bania lobby people are handling top ministries to keep a check on the Shudras/OBCs/Dalits and so on with an entry into Rajya Sabha. Arun Jaitley, Ravishankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, Swapan Dasgupta, Rakesh Sinha, G.V.L. Narshimha Rao and others are the main ideologues and they are handling big ministries and institutions.
Only the Dalits, because of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, have come into that zone to challenge this hegemony. The English-educated ideological forces foresaw that. This is the main fear.
In this process, English speaking intellectualism entering politics and those people becoming spokespersons on the English channels and getting into the Rajya Sabha and controlling power centres is the mechanism. The Dalits, OBCs and even the upper Shudras like Jats, Patels, Gujjars, Kammas, Reddys, Lingayats and so on are seen as non-protectors of the brahminc ideology, as they were/are agrarian and do not know English. Only the Dalits, because of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, have come into that zone to challenge this hegemony. The English-educated ideological forces foresaw that. This is the main fear.
In my view, Dalits are the only hope of the country. The Shudra upper castes like Jats, Patels, Gujjars have not produced English-speaking intellectuals to get into Rajya Sabha and change the core structure. The OBCs are far away from it. After 70 years of Independence, let us see how it unfolds in future. The BJP may go to polls with a two-pronged agenda—appease the Dalits and oppress them and ignore the Shudras/OBCs as they still have not developed independent national energy to challenge the Brahminic forces of India.
(Views expressed are the author’s personal opinion)