Who’s to blame for Dalit disenchantment?
Don’t look for scapegoats, Modi
We have a saying in colloquial Hindi: “Jaadu wo jo sar chadh ke bole” roughly translated it would mean.’ However much you hide, truth prevails’. The public rally held at Muzaffarnagar on February 3 to mobilise support for the BJP’s Kapil Dev Agarwal in the ensuing assembly by-elections almost three years after the infamous communal carnage, has nailed the BJP lie that the communal passions then rose spontaneously over “Love Jihad.”
Standing along side with the local MP and Union minister Sanieev Baliyan, UP state BJP executive member, Umesh Malik told a large gathering on February 2, as reported in the Indian Express, “Lok Sabha ke chunav mein Muzaffarnagar se uthi chingari Pradesh mein gayi, Pradesh se pure desh mein gaiy. Aaap logon ke dwara banaye gaye desh ke pradhan mantri Narendra Modi aapke dwara chingari ke karan bane thhe. (During the Lok Sabha elections the embers that rose from Muzaffarnagar spread to the entire state and from there to the whole country. The embers that you raised made Narendra Modi the Prime Minister.) It is the issue of identity and your honour today.”
Malik further disclosed how these leaders organised the contentious mahapanchayat on September 7, 2013 to create a permanent communal divide. He said, “Friends, the mahapanchayat did take place. The entire planning was done in jail,” adding that the Prime Minister in turn rewarded Balyan for this act saying, “Narendra Modiji made Balyan a minister and sent him to you for your honour.”
Next door in the Deoband assembly constituency also going to polls on February 13, BJP candidate and RSS pracharak Rampal Singh Pundhir flexing his muscles throws an open challenge to the Muslims of Deoband saying “If I get elected they will feel the terror (Ek bhay unke andar, Hamara terror hoga unke upar).” This when there is no history of any communal tension in the city in the past.
All these speeches accompanied by Jat leader Sanjeev Balyan’s, frenetic campaigning for his party demonstrate that the BJP is relying solely on communally polarizing the Jats to win these by polls in this part of western UP. Now Jats’, relations with the Dalits has always been inimical. So why is the BJP concentrating mainly on Jat vote? Perhaps because post Rohith Vemula it has lost all hope of capitalizing on the Dalit antipathy towards the ruling Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav in the state. Otherwise it made common sense for the BJP to rally all non-MY voters against the ruling party.
Incidentally the same day Modi went off to Coimbatore to complain that the Congress was trying to alienate the Dalits by misleading them that the BJP is inclined to scrap reservation for the scheduled castes, indicating his worry at losing the Dalit vote, which he secured in 2014 through the success of the Sangh’s “Love Jihad” and Hindu honour propaganda.
On February 5, the Prime Minister went to Assam castigating the Sonia Rahul duo of putting spokes in his plans to alleviate the suffering of the toiling masses. Two days earlier his Master’s Voice (HMV) Arun Jaitley declared that his Government was not trying to undermine the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MNREGA). A bit thick though because for one, last budget session, Modi expressed his disdain at MNREGA as “A monument of Congress failure” and inspired by him Jaitley first cut its budget allocation and then took all the time to transfer MNREGA funds to the states.
This clearly demonstrates that much as we may tend to dismiss Rahul and Sonia Gandhi as politically inconsequential, they appear to be succeeding in stirring a seemingly unperturbed Narendra Modi and apparently calm and composed Jaitley to react with indignation over the current crisis relating to two basic questions –the Sanghi outlook towards the Dalits and the NDA government’s perceived anti-poor attitude.
Fact of the matter is that the credit for this general disenchantment among the dispossessed sections of our society, the Dalits, the OBCs, the farmers, the Muslim minority and the women, goes to Modi himself, his party and his alma mater the RSS. Today he blames Rahul for misleading the farmer. But who told him to start his now twenty-month old regime with an Ordinance to scrap the most fair and just legislation, the Land Acquisition Act brought in by the UPA government after much pressure from Sonia Gandhi? And for full one year he did not relent but persisted with one Ordinance after another when he failed to secure requisite numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
As for the industrial workers, the first thing his much valued Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje did was to start amending all the labour laws brought in over decades of working class struggle just to appease the rich and powerful and soon as Modi came to power he promptly followed in Vasundhara’s footsteps to please the Adanis, Ambanis and Tatas of the country. Even the Sangh’s trade union wing the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) the largest trade union in the country, stood alongside the INTUC and the Left trade unions CITU and AITUC to protest the suppression of the industrial workers. Why blame Rahul for calling Modi and his government anti-poor?
Modi blamed the Congress for the current Dalit agitation all over the country. But who opened the Pandora’s box on reservation? RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Naturally then RJD president Lalu Prasad went to town and the Dalits abandoned BJP allies Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi, notwithstanding all the efforts of BJP president Amith Shah to condemn all those opposing the BJP as Pakistanis. The drubbing in Bihar taught no lessons to Modi’s motley crowd for in the midst of Dalit agitation Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan went to Ahmedabad to express her disapproval of reservations for Dalits. And he blames Sonia and Rahul!
Who forced the circumstances which led to Rohith Vemula to committing suicide? First woman HRD minister of the country Smriti Irani, Union Labour and Employment minister Bandaru Dattatraya and not to forget the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and its president there N Susheel Kumar. Then to rub salt into the wounds of the agitating Daiits, one after another BJP leader starting with Sushma Swaraj pronounced that Rohith was no Dalit. So where does Rahul come in?
As if that were not enough last week Delhi University, JNU and Jamia students protesting against Rohith Vemula suicide in Hyderabad Central University (HCU) last December, outside RSS North Indian sub divisional headquarters, Jhandewalan in New Delhi were brutally thrashed by the Sangh men along with enthusiastic Delhi Policemen. Who holds the reins of Delhi Police? Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. This was a Dalit cum Left demonstration, with hardly any role of the Congress party. Why bring in the Congress here?
Modi is giving too much credit to the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi. Fact is that the basic character of the Sangh is anti-poor, anti-Dalit, anti-farmer and not to forget anti-minorities in general including linguistic minorities. For decades they have been dreaming of this situation when they would be able to rule the country on their own strength and amend its laws and Constitution to enforce their world view. Therefore the moment they came to power and happily for them they are today ruling greater part of India, they started baring their fangs. They feel a sense of urgency in implementing their agenda, which is to undo reservation, turn the minorities into second class citizens, cheat the farmer, suppress the industrial worker and disenfranchise the masses through foul means or fair like they have started doing in the panchayat elections in the garb of minimum education, mocking the Constitution makers who had so diligently worked at universal suffrage.
In the run up to the 2014 general elections Modi had such tremendous credibility that every word he uttered was gospel truth. Today his charisma is waning progressively. His diatribe against Rahul and Sonia got him no votes in Delhi, or Bihar. So eventually the BJP is returning to the tried and tested formula of communal polarization. Let us see how far this card takes the BJP in the ensuing UP by elections and then in Assam.