A Bahujan Azad Party has been floated by 50 "mostly" Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Caste IITians, who have left their full-time corporate jobs to devote themselves fully to politics. They say they will fight their first election only in 2020, starting with Bihar. In 2019 they will only do mobilisation work.
They have placed reservation for all categories at the top of their agenda (Brahman/ Savarna reservation?). They do not seem to have included minorities among them in any major way.
There are obviously strong reasons to suspect it is a ploy of the RSS to occupy the opposition space, for which they seem to be trying out several tactics, including encouraging discordant voices from Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Kirti Azad etc, and also to break the vote banks of SP, BSP, RJD, LJP, HAM and RLSP.
This new experiment will be the new AAP or AAP ka Baap (BAP). Its beginning is a bit like that of Vikas Bharti or Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra to lure tribals to RSS. That was also started by four IIT graduates.
They have got themselves registered with the Election Commission of India already. The question is: who is funding them? And why? Have they got a secret option to go back to their jobs if they fail politically, or once they have prepared the ground for regular politicians? Or will they be the GenNext of BJP? Tech-savvy, corporate-oriented, Hindutva-cored, RSS-linked? Are they the secret agents to break the fragile, new and emerging Bahujan unity which is the biggest threat to BJP ‘s political hegemony?
What gives them away is their poster. This has pictures of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Phules, Periyar (central and prominent), followed by Ram Manohar Lohia, and BJP favourites APJ Abdul Kalam (rather than Maulana Azad), Subhash Bose (ostensibly the foil to Gandhi and Nehru) and finally, Kanshi Ram.
They clearly want to appropriate all the Dalit, OBC and socialist icons and also include the South in their pan-Indian outreach.
Their motto is "Samaan Bhaarat, Khushhaal Bharat " (an echo of the hypocritical Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas slogan of Modi and BJP for 2014 elections), and their aim seems to be to fulfill the RSS dream of a consolidated Hindu vote bank, with SCs, STs, OBCs and EBCs all included, and a few emasculated Muslims, shorn of their identity—ideal minorities of a Hindu Rashtra and uncomplaining of their hostage status.
RSS thinks for the long term. No other political entity has so much resilience—and so much corporate funding for its political activities. It can therefore pull off such masterstrokes with practised ease. Can you imagine any other party including the Congress having the imagination and the resources to do anything even remotely similar?
This is no Arab Spring of the Anna Hazare type. This is Climate Change, ushered in by a long hard summer. Bahujans, beware!
This could be a serious disruptor of the emerging SP-BSP coalition in UP and the popularity of Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar, and who has the bonus of riding a sympathy wave for his father Lalu Yadav, who is now widely seen as being persecuted by the Modi Government. It will throw a spanner in their works and sabotage the consolidation of vote banks for the regional caste based parties and the Congress and the Left in an emerging scenario of Opposition unity.
This could be a game changer for BJP in state elections in North India in the near future as well as in the 2019 general election.
The author is a retired bureaucrat. The opinions expressed are her own