From Rohit Vemula to Gujarat, why is BJP facing the ire of Dalits?
After BJP and other right wing organisations demolished 16th century Babri Masjid after a systematic campaign which triggered communal riots across the country, the most important step the Sangh parivar took was to accommodate Dalits into their fold.
For their large Hindu project to succeed, the RSS might have thought it important to lure in Dalits, who forms almost quarter of India’s population. The Sangh parivar, which have made no secret of their aversion towards the lower castes and their political mobilisation have since then tried to pamper them through a slew of measures. They took a leaf out of the earlier Congress plan to electorally woo the Dalits, which later proved to successful in many states including Gujarat.
The ideologues who considered Dr. B R Ambedkar as their bete-noire, have started liberally decorating their campaign posters and stage decor with larger than life images of him.
The ideological battle the RSS clandestinely fought against Ambedkar was given a quiet burial, strategically for now. Ambedkar’s name was invoked every time the BJP leader’s spoke about justice and inclusiveness. Interestingly the warriors who took their ideological fight against Ambedkar were rested or sidelined in the party. Arun Shourie, who wrote Worshipping False Gods has been put in the freezer. RSS mouthpiece “Organiser” even carried a special issue on Ambedkar.
In 2002, when Gujarat government led by chief minister Narendra Modi, silently watched as thousands of Muslims were butchered, their women raped. The Sangh parivar used the Dalits as their foot soldiers to carry out the carnage. Despite the fact of politicalisation of Dalits, BJP could attract a large chunk of that group into their fold.
But is this trend taking a reverse path? Or despite their best acts the Sangh Parivar is unable to conceal their real motive when it comes to the Dalits?
In the last two years, the biggest political and ideological challenge prime minister Narendra Modi’s government faced is from the politics of Dalits mobilisation. Because all the major issues that Modi government faced were not triggered by the mainstream political parties.
Coming out of the narrow versions of identity politics, the students in Madras IIT and later in Hyderabad Central University posed a big challenge to the BJP government.
Despite their overtly sympathetic approach towards the Dalits, the Sangh parivar could not ideologically reconcile to the reality of the Dalit politicisation .
How the central ministers reacted to the political movement in Hyderabad University which later led to the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula speaks volumes about Modi government’s approach towards the Dalit politicisation.
When in Madras IIT Ambedkar Periyar Student Association was formed the approach was the same.
The surge in violence against the Dalits in the last two years can’t be seen in isolation.
The upper caste groups perhaps enthused by the political atmosphere created after BJP took over at the Centre went berserk against the Dalits. The latest incident in Gujarat is a reflection of this. And the BJP, despite their rhetoric seems to be clueless on how to deal with the issue.
Thousands are marching against the victimisation of Dalits in Gujarat much to chagrin of the Sangh parivar.
When two children were burnt to death in Haryana the reaction of junior foreign minister V K Singh was a reflection of the mindset of most BJP leaders.
V K Singh said if some one who throws stones at dogs, the government is not responsible. This sparked a huge controversy. And prime minister Modi did not deem it important a matter, for him to comment upon. It must be also be recalled that the large scale anti- Dalit atrocities are taking place where BJP is in power or are in position of strength.
Gujarat’s Dalit mobilisation seems to be snowballing into a major movement. Unlike the Hyderabad University issue, this protest is led by toiling Dalits. And in recent elections in Gujarat there are indicators to suggest that the Dalits in large number voted for BJP. So the Dalit mobilisation that is witnessing from across the country, poses not just ideological challenge to BJP (to lesser extent to other major political parties also) but a formidable political challenge as well.
How is BJP going to encounter this?
Would they go back to their core ideological principle which nurtures the upper castes.
Are they going to end ideological subterfuge BJP practised from the late 80s ?
Then what will be the electoral consequence and how the BJP plans to overcome that.
These are all questions answers to which will say a lot about the future of Indian politics. As of now all BJP and Sangh parivar up in their sleeves seems to the age old technique of fanning up the nationalism.