From Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh, how BJP is bitten by caste assertion
When everything seems to be going to the way Sangh Parivar would want to, some thing that is happening in India’s hinterland is giving them the kind of headaches that no mainstream political entities could pose.
It might have been brewing for a very long time.
But for a party, which has managed caste question in Indian context, cunningly camouflaging its ideological affinity towards the upper castes, what is happening now is important.
The events that are unravelling in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh might turn out to be issues that would put Sangh Parivar in a kind of situation that will have immediate political ramifications.
How BJP managed to decimate Congress and other opposition parties in Gujarat is reflection of Sangh Parivar’s innate ability to manage different groups with disparate interests to win elections.
In Gujarat, the BJP took a leaf out of Congress method- which is known KHAM, acronym for Khastriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim- and perfected the art of balancing different caste groups to retain power, elections after elections.
The first thing that signalled the cracks in BJP’s poll strategy appeared when Patidars revolted for getting reservation in government jobs.
BJP even when they stitched together KHAM were able to strike a balance with upper castes in Gujarat. It toppled when the Patidars literally went berserk against the BJP government.
The BJP national leadership is calibrating plans to woo back the Patels. But the Dalit resurgence is posing a serious challenge which has pushed prime minister Narendra Modi’s party to a precarious situation.
The carefully nurtured KHAM is in tatters now. The semblance of Hindu unity the Sangh Parivar could maintain after they demolished the Babri Masjid has gone for a toss now.
What political turn the Dalit upsurge will take remains to be seen.
But going by the reports from Gujarat there is less chance that it would go the BJP way.
The Dalits used as foot soldiers by the BJP and the VHP during the 2002 Gujarat carnage to kill the Muslims are now perhaps for the first time is asserting their identity without the tutelage of their political masters.
Whatever effect this will have in Gujarat politics, in all probability is not going to help the BJP.
The current mobilisation of Dalits, after Hindu vigilante groups flogged some of them for skinning a dead cow, is in fact a reaction against the politics practised by the Sangh Parivar.
After Modi rode to power in Delhi in 2014, the Sangh outfits have been aggressively pushing their agenda around cow protection. The Dalits who were targeted were the victims of this polarising agenda. The politics of cow protection, aimed primarily against Muslims, has in fact reached a point where Sangh’s ideology’s intrinsic prejudices against the Dalits and lower castes have come to the fore.
If situation in Gujarat is sending alarm signals to BJP, the messages from poll bound UP is no different.
BJP ‘s cow protection programme initially aimed at Muslims are now targeting the Dalits in UP also as in other parts of the country.
The recent misogynistic statement against Mayawati by a senior BJP leader has has worked as a polarising element in favour of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
BJP which has been poaching several senior leaders in the BSP, is now feeling the heat after it was forced to suspend Dayashanker Singh an important leader of the party in the the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP which was maintaining good ties with caste groups now looks like it will lose the Dalit support base it had managed to shore up in the 2014 national elections.
Congress move of projecting Sheila Dixit, as the chief ministerial candidate has put pressure on the BJP to come out with its leader in the upcoming polls. But the recent polarisation of some caste groups against the BJP has made the task difficult.
From Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh, the Dalit uprising is posing new challenges to BJP at different levels.
The Hindu consciousness it has developed even among Dalits by pitting them against Muslims seems to have run its course.
Babri Masjid demolition and the several communal riots that erupted later have helped the Sangh Parivar to create a semblance of Hindu unity and the party has reaped electoral benefits from it.
But it own agenda of cow protection – another technique used to polarise the society has now started backfiring against them. The castiest element inherent in the Sangh ideology is being unmasked by this campaign.
The Dalit mobilisation is tearing apart the BJP’s carefully manufactured political Hindu project. The ideology of the Sangh Parivar which supports upper caste, is failing its own tactical approach on the ground as is witnessed in Gujarat.