Behind the scenes
There are many people who may not constantly make the newspaper headlines, but their works have a significant influence on today’s socio-cultural and political world. This space is for the views on Dalitbahujan issues of such people who work behind the scenes. Here, Om Prakash Rajbhar, chief of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party speaks with Kumar Sameer. – Managing Editor
Rajbhar: BJP threatened to unleash the CBI to break up SP-BSP alliance
- Kumar Sameer
Like the earlier Congress and Janata Dal governments, the Modi government, too, is depriving the weak of their rights. Dalitbahujans, who had great expectations from the Modi Government, are feeling cheated.
Kumar Sameer (KS): The Modi government has completed 100-plus days in office in its second term. What is your take on the government’s performance in the social and economic arenas?
Om Prakash Rajbhar (OPR): The formation of a new government at the Centre, under the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2014, had aroused great expectations among the people in general and the Dalitbahujans in particular. The people were hopeful that they would now get the rights due to them. But that did not happen. By the end of its term, the Dalitbahujans had lost faith in the government and the possibility of Modi returning to power had receded. Modi and his team then decided to adopt the policy of divide-and-rule vis-à-vis the Dalitbahujans. The Bahujan community was too innocent to see through it and as a result, Modi is back in power.
KS: Could you elaborate what you mean by the divide-and-rule policy?
OPR: It cannot be explained with just one example. But if you will see the political gain and loss in its entirety, you will discover the truth. Take only Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. What happened with parties doing Dalitbahujan politics – Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar – is no secret. In UP, BSP and SP fought the elections together and the outcome was positive. But the alliance came apart after the polls. If you dig deep, you will find that the threat of CBI was used to break the alliance. The truth is that the alliance collapsed only because of the CBI’s sword hanging over the head of BSP chief Mayawati’s brother Anand. The SP-BSP alliance was a successful experiment, but it was wrecked. In Bihar, the RJD-led grand alliance failed to click. Delve deeper and you will discover that the internal squabbles in RJD founder Lalu Yadav’s clan, especially between his sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi, led to the failure. The BJP’s role in it is no secret. In UP too, BJP fanned the dispute between Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav – the two key pillars of SP. This was about two states. They used the same stratagem in all states.
KS: The BJP may have returned to power but it is being said that the economy is in very bad shape. Do you agree?
OPR: The country is passing through an economic crisis and the Modi government is squarely to blame for it. Modi has been a miserable failure on the economic front. That India has been removed from the World Bank’s list of developing nations proves it. The country is in the grip of a severe economic depression. The GDP growth rate, which was 8.2 per cent in 2014, has dropped to less than 5 per cent. The finance minister had admitted in Parliament that 6.8 lakh companies have shut up shop. Around four crore people have been rendered jobless. In short, the country is in deep economic crisis.
KS: On the social front, despite reservations, adequate development has been eluding the Dalitbahujans. Only a couple of castes have benefited from reservations. What is your view on the suggestion that the OBCs should be sub-categorized so that the distribution of benefits becomes more even?
OPR: I have been a votary of sub-categorization from the very outset. There are many official and non-official reports suggesting that not all castes are benefiting from the reservation policy. Analysis of the data on recruitment to the central government and the banks shows that 10 castes have cornered 25 per cent of the reserved jobs, with another 25 per cent jobs going to 38 other castes. As many as 506 castes shared 22 per cent jobs while 994 castes could get only 2.68 per cent jobs. Clearly, members of these 994 castes got next to nothing. This shows that a few castes have been monopolizing the OBC quota. Sub-categorization is the need of the hour, as it would end this anomaly.
KS: Post-2019 Lok Sabha elections, deep cracks seem to have developed among the previously united Dalitbahujans. Do you have any hope of their coming together again?
OPR: I have already said that the BJP has breached the opposition camp using the policy of divide and rule. But this success is immediate and temporary. The people have realized that they have been cheated. They have started thinking and you will see its positive consequences soon.
KS: A section of the Dalits of Uttar Pradesh is sore at Mayawati. In almost all the states, the Dalits are unhappy with their present leadership. Do you think they are looking for a new leadership?
OPR: I am in agreement with you. The Dalit community had great expectations from Mayawati but like other leaders, she too prioritized the welfare of her family over the wellbeing of the people. She just used the community to grab votes. That is why the Dalitbahujans are angry with her. The community needs a new leadership and the people have started thinking in that direction. The work of uniting the individuals and organizations of the deprived communities has begun.
KS: Why are the governments avoiding a caste census? They promise but don’t deliver. What have you to say on this?
OPR: Babasaheb Ambedkar was in favour of a caste census but the savarnas deliberately avoided it. They knew that once such a census would confirm that 15 per cent population is getting 50 per cent reservation. More than seven decades have elapsed since the country became free but a caste census has not been held. However, when it came to extending the benefit of reservations to the Savarnas, the Bill was rushed through Parliament and the measure was immediately implemented. We have long been demanding caste census. If the demand is ignored any longer, Dalitbahujans will resort to agitation.
KS: The central government’s Skill Development Scheme was a good initiative that could have enhanced the skill sets of the artisan community. But the scheme is floundering. Why?
OPR: If you do not make proper preparations for a journey, you are unlikely to reach your destination. That is what happened with the Skill Development Scheme. What was needed was employment-oriented education and not training students in skill development centres after they have done their matriculation, intermediate, graduation or postgraduation. I feel that children should be taught skills necessary for running cottage industries from standard four onwards. That would ensure that by the time they clear high school, they acquire the necessary skills. We need to begin employment-oriented education from the primary classes.
KS: Little is being done to fill up backlog vacancies in government departments. What have ypu to say about it?
OPR: This is the sixth straight year of Modi’s rule. In these six years, instead of implementing the reservation policy, the government has been busy privatizing everything as part of a conspiracy. Government jobs are being outsourced and that is taking away the rights of the members of the reserved categories. The Modi government probably thinks that once there are no vacancies left in government departments, there will be no question of filling up backlog vacancies.
Editing: Nawal; translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil
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