Assuaging the Dalits in UP
With the prospects of the BJP Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind becoming the country's fourteenth President next month extremely bright, the question is-- will it help assuage the anger of this community against upper caste high-handedness in Uttar Pradesh. Dalit experts believe the attack against their brethren by the Rajputs in a village near Saharanpur, described as the communal lab of the country, in May, is uniting them in the most populous state in the country.
The BJP central leadership has directed the UP chief minister to be even-handed in his approach towards the Dalits, and ensure such clashes did not spread to other districts within the state. For the second time in less than a month the "Bhim Army" has hit the streets of the national capital protesting against caste violence and demanding the release of their young leader Chandrasekhar Azad. He had gone underground and was arrested recently.
More than 120 organisations across UP have come together to challenge the attack on the Dalits. Experts feel Western UP can become the nerve-centre of the country's Dalit politics in the near future. The disturbances are attributed to the upper castes not being able to tolerate political empowerment of Dalits. The upper castes also resent the 'Jai Bheem' slogan which is a symbol of empowerment for Dalits. For a while, with disunity among its ranks, the Dalit movement had weakened. With the community votes divided into different parties, they now realise their political blunder. Dalit aggression can provoke Muslims to retaliate. The Bhim Sena has been afforded an opening to step in and make its presence felt.