Millennium Post

New turn to caste politics in UP

Our ancient society as mentioned in historical and mythological books was based on a typical caste based order and beliefs. Moreover the society was also categorised on the basis of professional castes and the distance between the castes was wide and difficult to narrow down. The hatred among various castes often resulted in violence. It took centuries in shaking hands with the members of the other caste; socially we were a divided house. Inter-caste marriages were a distant dream even after we attained Independence. After an interlude, the society became lenient towards inter-caste marriages though the strong resistance is being reported across the country. Our temples used to be different, our wells used to be separate and even residential areas used to be reasonably away from each other’s.

The thing would have definitely taken a positive turn had the castes not have been made scapegoats of politics by vote monger leaders. Politicisation of caste is unabated. Where will it take our country? Even God has no answer to it. The recent stay order by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court on caste based rallies in the state calls for a healthy debate in the country as the venomous caste politics and appeasement of various castes by certain parties is not a good sign for the democracy.  The four major political parties in the state – BSP, SP, Congress and BJP – have been asked to file their response by the 30 July 2013, the next date of hearing.  It is evident from the modus operandi and the behaviour of political parties that none of them is saint. They dream politics, cook politics, sow politics and harvest politics in their thoughts as well as actions. Political parties become vigorous and volatile in run up to the elections to flout norms and established democratic principles.

The BSP probably is becoming impatient after the loss of a major state like UP. Recently, the BSP finished the first phase of Brahmin Bhaichara Sammelan in 40 districts of the state, one addressed by party supremo Mayawati at Lucknow.  She might be looking to employ social re-engineering and cast a die for an unassailable position in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. When talking about the BSP, the Socialist party is not behind in organising the caste based rallies.  It seems that the Brahmins and Muslims have since become an attractive vote bank, parties have started luring them. The BJP and Congress both had been struggling hard to revive their lost glory by using innovation that might involve exploring ‘Brahmin power’. Apart from Brahmin Sammelans, the state had witnessed the Kurmi conventions, the Pal Sammelan, the minorities maha sammelans and so on. Efforts are also on to use the strength of Rajputs, Jats and others. The situation in Bihar and Jharkhand is not different at all.  It is understood that the ruling party in Haryana is mulling five to ten per cent reservations for the Brahmins.

It would be appropriate to go to the roots of this politicisation for harvesting electoral gains. Late Kanshi Ram floated his organisation Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) with an aim to protect the interests of SC/ST employees though his veiled aim was to turn it in to a political outfit at an appropriate time. He was an extra ordinary organiser though an ordinary public speaker. After the formation of his political oufit – the Bahujan Samaj Party – he was looking for a forceful speaker to exploit emotions of the weaker sections, the targeted vote bank of the party. Ultimately Kanshi Ram’s search ended at Mayawati, an educated young lady loaded with expectations and significant power.  Her fiery words and rigid attitude helped the party and Kanshi Ram in expanding the base in UP. The party also caught hold of a person for coining slogans. The earlier slogans like, Vote hamare, raj tumhara, nahin chalega, nahin chalega and Bahujan jiske saath hai, bahumat uske pas hai paid dividends to the party. The BSP went on to intensify its casteist approach by using slogans like, Teer, taraju aur Talwar, inko maro joote char.

Apart from this the then BSP Chief Kanshi Ram used to tell banias, brahmans and rajputs and kshatriyas to get lost from the party public meetings. The hatred of upper castes has since become dear to the BSP. Is has to be asked whether this is a compulsion or opportunism? Mayawati during 2004 assembly elections tried Brahmins as her strength by utilising the services of Satish Chand Mishra and a slogan was coined, Brahmin shankh bajayega, and haathi badhta jayega. This resulted in the desired results. Behenji is reportedly eagar to recruit Brahmin again as her vote bank in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections to nurture her prime ministerial desire. The menace of caste politics is not restricted to the BSP alone. In fact, no party would like to leave any opportunity of exploiting castes for their timely gain. Similar considerations are kept in mind while choosing partners in coalitions. Sometime parties land up in choosing strange alliances due to narrow political compulsions. Everything is justified in love, war and elections.

The author is a communication consultant
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