Millennium Post

Renaissance of Dalit politics in India

Evolution is a gradual process and political evolution is an even more gradual. The latter has acquired a surprising streak of dynamism. The recent electoral verdict has posed a formidable contradiction to this otherwise established belief. The face of subaltern politics in India has displayed a tectonic shift in the recent set of high decibel political events. The champions of democracy have frequently resorted to construction and manipulation of identities principally on the basis of caste, religion and region. On the basis of analysis of the peoples mandate in last year’s provincial elections of Madhya-Pradesh and Rajasthan and in the recently concluded general elections, the philosophy of social engineering has undergone some serious reorientations. The BJP has won majority of the reserved assembly constituencies in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and has remarkably swept all the parliamentary constituencies in UP for the first time in the electoral history of the state. National Democratic Alliance has won 67 of 85 reserved seats in the lower house of the Parliament. The entire sociological calculus of the traditional society seems to have revolted against the redundant soldiers of social justice who eventually failed to deliver.

The emergence of Bahujan movement in the Hindi heartland was a promising event in the political history of the nation. The contemporary socio-political narrative that largely revolved around the entangled idea of Mandir and Mandal suffered a major setback by the movement initiated by Kanshiram. Keeping in mind the huge demographic presence, the unity was quite understandably inevitable. It successfully percolated beyond the state of Uttar Pradesh to adjoining areas of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and New Delhi. BSP has rarely failed to impress on the count of ratio of the number of seats contested with the share of vote percentage regardless of the number of seats it won.

Apart from the desperate call for change emanating from the decade of deceit and decadence by the previous regime, the politics of iconography and coalitions have done the required critical realignment in favour of the nationalist forces. The open heart acceptance of party leadership in owning the deceased icons from other parties like Kanshiram, Babu Jagjivan Ram and
K R Narayanan have positively yielded in the form of victory. The coalition with LJP in Bihar, RPI in Maharashtra and some regional outfits in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have actively consolidated the votes in the favour of the party.

Through the electoral rout of Mayawati the have-nots have signalled that Dalit politics is never going to be the same again. Times have changed and so has the aspirations of the socially disadvantaged section of our society for whom Ambedkar dedicated his life. The youths from this section is venturing beyond the ideological contours. They are searching for better educational and employment opportunities and a reasonable standard of living. The idea of affirmative action has sufficiently lifted two generations from abject poverty. With the advent of technology and mushrooming of urban infrastructure, nobody is willing to inquire about the caste of the individual with whom they share a floor in the apartment or a compartment in the train. As a Dalit youth and a dreamer for equal society, I strongly urge our leaders to not treat us as a political commodity that would come to your rescue at the end of every five years. We have become enlightened to our rights and entitlements that emanates from Constitution.

We are more interested in the ‘Constitution of India’ than the ‘Annihilation of Caste’. Quotes from the ‘Directive principles of state policy’ raise our passions and not some misinterpreted verse of Veda or a Manusmriti. We want debate and discussion on ‘social sector initiatives’ than on ‘social division’.

Have we reached the post-ideological, post-caste, post-religion era of the Indian politics?
The author is a research scholar at the University of Delhi
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