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The rise of Akhilesh Yadav amid Dwij jeers

Historically, Hindutva forces have treated the Shudras and Dalits and Adivasis as enemies. The minorities are only a late addition to their list of enemies. They created the caste system and nurtured it to perpetually enslave the food producers. This enmity of the Dwijs with Shudras is millennia old, writes Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Notwithstanding the results of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections, it is now clear that Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as a major leader in national politics. The way he challenged the top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and their massive network in Uttar Pradesh with courage, confidence and tact has made him a new hero of the youth across the country. Particularly, the youth of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) see him as a man who can challenge Narendra Modi in the future. 

Narendra Modi projected himself as an OBC leader to win the lower OBC votes, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, in 2014. There is now a feeling that he has not been true to himself and the public. He never supported the OBC cause at any time in his life before the 2014 elections. The RSS/BJP networks, which never supported the Mandal Commission’s recommendations for carving out an OBC category for reservations, suddenly projected him as OBC for the sake of votes.

Akhilesh comes from an OBC family that has contributed greatly to the self-respect and political upward mobility of the OBCs in Uttar Pradesh. The nation knows his father Mulayam Singh’s stern handling of the Ram Rath Yatra led by L.K. Advani, in which Modi participated, as it tried to derail the Mandal train. In fact, Akhilesh – educated in a modern English-medium school and college system, including abroad – has proved to be far more deft than his father.

The BJP/RSS central and state governments have become pawns in the hands of what the BJP leader and former minister Arun Shourie calls tycoons in the industrial economy and of sadhus and sanyasis for whom abusing Mahatma Gandhi has become normal behaviour. As they are privatizing the Public Sector Units (PSU) to deprive the Shudras (OBC), Dalits (SCs) and Adivasis (STs) of jobs, the tycoons are taking over many of these industries at throwaway prices and investing their money in foreign countries. They are also buying massive houses in safe havens (Ambani house in London is just one example) for such a time when the nation realizes it has been hoodwinked. Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi have already done so under BJP rule. Gautam Adani’s investments in many countries is well known. The private companies do not employ Shudras and Dalits and Adivasis. The private sector in India means jobs only for the Dwijs – Brahmins, Banias, Kayasthas, Khatris and Kshatriyas. The notion of merit has become a tool of manipulation.  

On the other hand, the RSS/BJP associate sadhus and sanyasis are organizing their own Parliament (called Dharam Sansad) to declare war on the food producers and also on the democratic system. After the farmers’ struggle of 2020-21, the political discourse has shifted from the minorities to the Shudra, Dalit and Adivasi food producers. Historically, Hindutva forces have treated the Shudras and Dalits and Adivasis as enemies. The minorities are only a late addition to their list of enemies. They created the caste system and nurtured it to perpetually enslave the food producers. This enmity of the Dwijs with Shudras is millennia old.

ALSO READ:  The farmers’ protest and the new Shudra consciousness

The RSS/BJP associate tycoons swindle the food producers and the sadhu-sanyasis eat without participating in any productive activity. And in the RSS/BJP theoretical realm, the food producers are anti-nationals and the parasitical swindlers and consumers are nationalists. This is their theoretical paradigm. Ram Madhav and other Dwijs theoreticians write that this new paradigm of nationalism has ancient roots.

The time has come for the minorities – Muslims and Christians – to support the Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis. The 14-month farmer agitation and the deaths of 750 food producers during the agitation was treated as the puppy being run over by the Hindutva rath. The battlelines are now drawn between all the food producers of India and RSS/BJP Hindutva anti-farmers. The likes of Asaduddin Owaisi are out there to assist the RSS/BJP even in this battle – which is very sad for Muslim intellectualism.

Akhilesh Yadav takes out a cycle yatra in Lucknow

It is this new battle that Akhilesh, born into a productive caste, is fighting organically. If they shouted Ram Rajya, he countered with Krishna Rajya; if they claimed that the BJP was for the OBCs, he said the BJP was the biggest seller of lies. He explained to the people how in their own life experience lies are sold as truth. The Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis have not got anything from this regime. In the absence of Mayawati in the battlefield, as Rahul and Priyanka described themselves as Brahmins of yore, Akhilesh went to the non-Yadav OBCs and Jats and urged them to work for Naya Samajwad (New Socialism). He took the Samajwadi Party out of the confines of the Yadav camp and sidelined all those in the party who were known as corrupt.

Most praiseworthy is the way he handled the Hindutva media with firmness and dexterity. He has nullified the tendency of the media to paint the Yadavs as being inclined to gundagiri and managed to convincingly portray Thakur Raj as Terror Raj. The people have now come to see the difference between Akhilesh’s term as chief minister and that of Yogi, who loves cows more than humans.

The Hindutva media spread lies for decades, starting from the days of Mulayam and Lalu Prasad, that Yadavs are only good for grazing cattle but not for ruling. Now, Akhilesh and Tejaswi Yadav have disproved the theory that Mandalwalas are useless and meritless and only the Dwijs are meritorious.            

Even amid the Modi-Shah threat of raids and deployment of muscle power, Akhilesh emerged as a leader who could give confidence to young, secular and liberal leaders all across the country. With an absolutely weakened Indian National Congress and the communist parties failing to provide a national alternative to the RSS/BJP, Akhilesh Yadav, powered by a successful farmer’s struggle, is a ray of hope. 

About The Author

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, author and activist. He has been a professor of Political Science at Osmania University, Hyderabad and director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. He is the author of ‘Why I Am Not a Hindu’, ‘Buffalo Nationalism’ and ‘Post-Hindu India’ 

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