Earlier, the Bahujans were divided into castes. Now, they are divided into parties. There are insignificant, if any, ideological differences between the political outfits claiming to be the flag-bearers of Bahujan interests. It is the ego of their supremos and their political ambitions that is coming in the way of their unity. Has this division weakened Bahujan politics in the country? Amlesh Prasad, Chhapra (Bihar) correspondent of FORWARD Press, discussed this issue with Bahujan intellectuals. Excerpts:
National Vice-President, Bahujan Mukti Party
In my view, there was a time when the Bahujans were divided into various castes. But they are getting united. They are now equipped with a distinct identity and self-respect. Of course, their political parties have ambitions. There is nothing wrong with that either. There is no ‘supremo’ in the Bahujan Mukti Party. In other parties, we can either see a clique or a family dominating the affairs. In some parties, fascist forces are getting stronger, in others the bureaucracy is ruling the roost. Everyone is trying to forge ahead in different ways. This has not weakened Bahujan politics. The Bahujan movement should spring from different parties, different platforms. But there should be a healthy competition among Bahujan parties. This will strengthen Bahujan politics and enhance its quality. To some extent, Bahujan politics seems to have lost its way. Some parties have ‘‘Bahujan’’ as part of their name but they are of the Mishra brand. The result is that Bahujans are not voting for their parties. They are joining the BJP or Congress. We lack education. As we get educated, we will become aware and move ahead. Those with a narrow mindset will fall by the wayside. The parties who have a real Bahujan ideology will rule the country. Bahujan Mukti Party is into politics of Bahujans and for Bahujans only. Our representatives are real, they are not nominees. The objective of our party is to raise social awareness and inculcate self-respect among Bahujans.
Buddha Sharna Hans,
Ambedkar Mission, Patna
Society does not change merely by talking and discussing. Society changes by holding the hands of the people and taking them forward. The caste Hindus do not want to change society. They want to maintain the status quo. Therefore, very cunningly, they have been lulling the Bahujans into complacency by talking incessantly about their problems. The Bahujan intellectuals and politicians have also learnt this art from the caste Hindus. They too only talk and discuss. They refuse to learn from the missionary work of their own guiding lights like Gautam Buddha, Jotiba Phule, Shahu ji Maharaj, Ramasamy Naikar Periyar, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jagdev Prasad and Lalai Singh Yadav. Neither they themselves march ahead nor do they inspire the community to march ahead. That is why Bahujan intellectuals and politicians are scattered in different political parties. To become one ideologically, we all will have to turn into missionaries. Unless he becomes a missionary, a politician is nothing but a petty shopkeeper selling groceries. And the intellectuals are nothing but customers of that shop. No politician or intellectual has formulated any programme to take the mission of their guiding lights ahead. Today’s politicians can do nothing better than arranging rallies of lakhs of people and delivering stiff lectures to them. Rallies and meetings of specific castes are bound to divide and weaken Bahujans. It is the responsibility of the intellectuals to get united and take the mission of their guiding lights forward. And for this, they will have to persuade the people to unite.
Dr Rajendra Prasad Singh,
Bahujan politics will be strengthened in the country only when the intellectual level of the Bahujans rises. And by this I mean that they should not see things through the eyes of the media. The media shows only those things which the forces opposed to Bahujans want it to show. The Bahujans should break free from the shackles of the media and see and analyze things on their own.
Subhash Chandra Kushwaha
The structure of the caste system of Indian society is so complicated, deep-rooted and cleverly constructed that even progressive individuals cannot insulate themselves from its vicious influence. The caste system, as the umbilical cord of the Sanatan Dharma, has entangled all progressive religions into the web of incarnations and rituals, created a crisis of ideology and blunted the process of social reform. Despite the grossly unjust socio-economic structure, the energy needed for changing society could never be generated. Some parties claiming to lead Dalits and OBCs did emerge and their rise was the fallout of the Sanatani hypocrisy and the humiliation of the lower castes. But they lacked an ideological foundation and as a result turned into individual-centric oligarchies. No wonder, the Bahujans have been divided among these parties. Till the Sanatan dharma, with its caste system and other characteristics, is not effaced from the minds of the ruled and the rulers, the elite and the commoners, unity cannot be achieved nor can just solutions be worked out. We will have to admit that a brahmanised Bahujan can exploit another Bahujan. If we will continue to support these outfits with our eyes closed, we will have only ourselves to blame when we falter and fall.
Dr Ganga Sahay Meena
The forms and limitations of Bahujan politics in the country are being discussed and debated. But the key question is whether there is anything like Bahujan politics in the country. A close analysis will reveal that the answer is in the negative. After Dr Ambedkar, Dalit-OBC politics has not been able to create a place for itself in the country’s polity. The main reason for this is that politicians and politics are far removed from the process of social change. The Bahujan leaders who claim to be proponents of equality have done nothing to end the dominance of money and muscle power in politics. Lacking initiative, Bahujan politics is miles away from achieving its target. If an equitable society is to be built, the Bahujan politicians will have to emphasise Bahujan unity and social awareness. A space for alternative politics has been created in the country by the circumstances. Bahujan politics should try to put it to meaningful use.
Published in the March 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine
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