RSS desperate to find out why Dalits have deserted bjp
By Arun Srivastava
Social scientists are busy trying to analyse the reasons for the recent large scale desertion of senior BJP ministers and legislators and subsequently going back to the SP. While some look at it as an old syndrome, a large section of experts and scholars nevertheless strongly feel that it symbolises the protest of Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs against the hegemonistic politics of RSS and BJP.
To describe the desertion as ayaram and gayaram syndrome is naïve. Politicians usually do not dump a winning party. No doubt the farmers’ movement has shaken the trust level of the BJP, but still the cadres and bhakts are sure that Modi’s charisma would salvage the situation and they would win.
In such a backdrop the decision of the Dalit and OBC leaders to quit has more political relevance than meets the eye. Since 2014 of the Modi rule, the Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs were made to be subservient to the RSS and BJP. RSS came out with the façade of presenting them as the major section of the Hindus. Though the RSS and BJP continued with their rhetoric, in reality they ill-treated the Dalits and OBCs.
A number of massacres took place; Dalits were lynched and their women folk were violated and even burnt after perpetrating the heinous crime, the BJP leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Home Minister and other senior leaders maintained a passive silence. The most deplorable was the antipathy of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. He has been continuously claiming that these people are part of the greater Hindu society, but he never condemned and castigated the Sangh mercenaries and vigilantes who were involved in the grisly incidents.
These incidents had completely alienated the Dalits and non-yadav OBCs. They restarted the move to unite and come under one banner. In the initial months, Samajwadi Party was not in the reckoning. In fact, the Dalits were not too keen to align with SP. But the success of the farmer’s movement changed the entire scenario. It cannot be denied that the re-emergence of Dalits as a potent force is a gift of the farmers’ movement.
It is a known fact that Dalits and non-yadav OBCs have antagonistic relations with Samajwadi Party which is perceived as the party of the Yadavs, the intermediate caste. Nevertheless the urgency to break the political hegemony of the rightist and Hindutva forces made them join hands with the SP. It is worth mentioning that in 2017 and 2019 these forces had joined BJP and it was due to their support the BJP won the UP assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had secured about 42 per cent of votes in the 2017 Assembly elections and nearly 50 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh. Now, support among the Dalit and OBC voters is waning due to acute economic distress and unemployment in east Uttar Pradesh. It would be wrong to construe that the BJP would have dared to deny tickets to Maurya and Chauhan. Their exit suggests they are responding to the mood of their voters. During last fortnight, till January 13, 2022, 19 BJP members joined the SP-led front. According to data collected by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), between 2016 and 2020, 182 MLAs from across the country joined the BJP while only 18 left the party. But now the reverse trend has begun. It implies that everything is not good with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Some time back CM Yogi Adityanath had claimed that the election is between 80 per cent and 20 per cent (Muslims make up 20 per cent of the electorate). He had included the vast population of Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs in 80 percent Hindu. Now with the Dalits and non-Yadav OBC rebelling against the BJP the situation has turned against it.
Nevertheless an insight into the nature and character of the shift of allegiance would unravel that it has got a wider political implications and would blunt the Hindutva parquet of the saffron outfit. Such large number of shifts underlines that it was conjured not only by monetary lust, it was resorted to protect the identity of the Dalits, and non-Yadav OBCs. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Narendra Modi had scribbled the Hindutva script for the assembly election. The extent of their reliance on the strategy could be gauged from the simple fact that Modi paid two obeisance visit to Kashi-Vishwanath. His visit cost around Rs 1500 crore. Prasad was distributed in 100 villages surrounding Kashi. Modi made all attempts to polarise the Hindu voters and turn Hindutva a talking point across the state. But if the mood of the people is any indicator, it can safely be said that it has failed to have major impact on the electorate. Modi’s Hindutva could not blur the economic compulsions of the people of Purvanchal, the most underdeveloped region of the state.
This single incident of senior Dalit leaders deserting the BJP has turned redundant the Mandal politics which has started dictating the political discourse and progression. It has altered the political narrative. This shifting of loyalty is not trivial. Earlier, politicians resorted to this tactics to turn the mood of the people, but this time the politicians have ventured after listening to the voice of Dalit protests at the lowest level. With the announcement of the date of election the voice of protest had become louder and more prominent
Coinciding with these two significant developments some Dalit scholars and activists launched a campaign to redefine the teachings of Ambedkar and second, a new kind of initiative was tossed to find out the caste of Emperor Ashoka. Dalit scholars were forced to evaluate Emperor Ashoka only after the BJP launched the move to identify him as Hindu icon. True enough the move to establish the caste of Ashoka changed the entire political contour of the UP and Bihar politics. Shifting of the focus on the Mauryan king who ruled India between 268 BCE and 232 BCE was a big challenge to the RSS theory that India has been a Hindu nation.
No doubt the BJP first tried to set the caste cauldron in UP on the boil ahead of the Assembly polls, and use the caste value of Emperor Ashoka, but soon it realised that it was going out of its hands. It has motivated the Dalits to question the attitude of the RSS and BJP towards them. On the other side of the battlefield is Bihar which had the privilege of claiming Emperor Ashoka as its own. Never in the political history of India have Dalits been pitted against the Hindus in this manner. For them usurping the legacy of Emperor Ashoka would be the biggest gain.
The Sangh Parivar has unleashed its radical Hindutva outfits to target the minorities in a brazen manner and polarise Hindu votes. For instance, hate-mongers masquerading as Hindu priests have launched the ‘safayee abhiyan (ethnic cleansing)’ and ‘genocide’ of the minorities at the Haridwar Dharam Sansad last month. Even the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad put up posters along the ghats of the River Ganga at Varansasi asking non-Hindus to keep out of the shrines along Mother Ganga. These developments created doubts about the BJP’s intention among the OBCs and Dalits. (IPA Service)