e n

Why Jagdeo Prasad insisted on a Savarna-free party

The Shoshit Dal came into being as a ‘nichhakka’ party of the exploited. Given the political scenario prevailing then Jagdeo Prasad underlined the need for such a party and laid out the rationale, writes Rinku Yadav

The wheels of the Communist revolution in India are still stuck in the class-caste morass. The communists are yet to sort out the complex interrelationship between caste and class in India. However, Jagdeo Prasad was clear-headed on the issue. He was assertive in his belief that only a social revolution would pave the way for an economic revolution. He saw a social revolution as central to the endeavour to transform India and had no doubts that only a “nichhakka dal”, that is a pure, unadulterated party, entirely free from the Savarnas, both as leaders and as members, could be the harbinger of such a revolution. 

To protect his party and its politics from getting caught in the web woven by the Savarnas, he wanted to have absolutely no truck with the class enemy.  

Jagdeo Prasad broke away from Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP) to form a political party exclusively of the exploited. He founded the Shoshit Dal, which later merged with Ramswaroop Verma’s Samaj Dal, to form the Shoshit Samaj Dal.   

A coalition government called Samyukta Morcha was formed in Bihar after the 1967 Assembly Elections. Jagdeo Prasad was one of the top leaders of the SSP, which was a part of the ruling coalition. Explaining the political circumstances in Bihar that compelled him to launch a new party, he said, “Of the 16 ministers in the Samyukta Morcha government, 11 were from the upper castes. The Communist Party and the SSP were also a part of the government. Both the ministers of the Communist Party were feudal lords, hailing from an upper caste. Even the SSP had failed to adhere to its own principle that 60 per cent of the positions should go to the exploited classes. Of its six ministers, three were upper caste. The council of ministers did not have a single Dalit or Adivasi.” He added, “Under the Samyukta Morcha government, 90 per cent of the people were reeling under the excesses of the 10 per cent exploiters. There was no one in the council of ministers to fight for the rights of the exploited masses.”    

It was impossible for Jagdeo Prasad to tolerate the government’s apathy towards the 90 per cent exploited. He thus concluded that pulling down the Samyukta Morcha government would be in the interest of the exploited. He said, “The SSP had drifted away from its principles. In fact, it had no principles at all – only hypocrisy. So, we brought down the Samyukta Morcha government and also quit the SSP.” 

The Shoshit Dal came into being as a “nichhakka” (pure, unadulterated) party of the exploited. Given the political scenario prevailing then, Jagdeo Prasad underlined the need for such a party and laid out the rationale. The mid-term polls that followed shortly after the fourth general shortly helped the Congress more or less recover from the jolt it had received in the fourth general elections. Jagdeo Prasad was of the view that the rule of the non-Congress parties, which lasted just a couple of months, was more disappointing for the exploited than the much longer rule of the Congress. He writes that as the fourth general elections drew closer, a feeling had begun gaining ground among the people that the Congress was at the root of all the ills plaguing the country and that if the Congress was shown the door, India would be free of all its problems. That had led to the Congress failing to secure a majority in half of the states. 

Jagdeo Prasad believed that the hegemony of the Dwij was at the root of all ills plaguing the country. In his words, “Not even 5 per cent of the dreams that we had in 1947 have been fulfilled. The leadership of all the parties in India is in the hands of the upper castes. Whether it is the Congress or the Jana Sangh, the Communist Party or Samyukta Socialist Party, the Praja Socialist Party or the Swatantra Party – they control all of them. These people are the root of all of the ills of Hindustan.” 

Jagdeo Prasad (2 February 1922 – 5 September 1974)

He wrote, “Only the names of the individuals and the parties are different in the new governments formed in different states. There is no fundamental change. And a cogent reason is behind it. The upper castes, who control all the parties, are back in power, albeit as representatives of different parties.”   

Jagdeo Prasad understood that the Dwij-controlled political outfits couldn’t bring about fundamental change. He was of the view that with these parties in power, India would never witness a socio-economic revolution. This was the rationale for forging a revolutionary party. Nothing other than a party exclusively of the exploited could trigger a socio-economic revolution. He was against giving any place to the Dwij at any level in such a party. 

While quitting the SSP, Jagdeo Prasad clarified that his concept of the ruling class was different from that of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, who believed that more than 90 per cent of the members of the upper castes were part of the ruling class. Lohia believed that anyone who had any two of these three characteristics was a part of ruling class – one, being from an upper caste, two, having acquired a Western education and three, owning property. At the same time, he was for implementing 60 per cent reservations in organizational positions. However, following a keen analysis of Indian society, Jagdeo Prasad concluded that hailing from an upper caste was the sole qualification for entry into the ruling class. He unequivocally declared that no person from an upper caste could be a revolutionary. He would say that it was impossible to change the class character of any member of the upper castes.   

One can always question the maxim that no upper caste can be a revolutionary. But then, the moot question is whether they will be able to break their ties with their class and change their class character? How will this happen? The upper castes have historically enjoyed certain privileges and they get these privileges merely by being born into their caste, irrespective of whether they believe in the caste system or don’t. One’s economic status may change but not one’s caste. Hence, till caste is annihilated, no one can divorce themself from their caste. With the Dwij monopolizing every sphere of our lives, surrendering their special privileges becomes a primary pre-condition for an upper-caste individual to raise the banner of revolution. And there is no way he can lead a revolution. Hence, only a party that is Dwij-free can become a political tool for the emancipation of the exploited.

Throwing light on the character and the conduct of the upper castes, Jagdeo Prasad writes, “Every member of the upper castes, whether he is poor or rich, is adept in the art of exploiting others. He is an enemy of gentlemanly behaviour and humanity. He has nothing to with truth.” In his view, it would be foolhardy to believe that an upper-caste person can ever be a believer in gentlemanly behaviour and humanity. He believed that it would be grossly improper to give upper castes a place in the leadership or at any level in the organization of the party. He considered upper castes mischievous and opportunist by birth – if they are allowed to enter an organization, they will sabotage it from within. However, he also says, “We believe that the upper castes, who form 10 per cent of the population, should get 10 per cent of the positions in every sphere of life. When our party comes to power, we will honestly set aside 10 per cent of the positions for them because they form 10 per cent of the population.” 

The “Statement of Principles” of the Shoshit Samaj Dal clearly delineates the factors behind the anti-revolutionary character of the upper castes. Elaborating on why the upper castes can never provide revolutionary leadership to society, it says that firstly, because they never face the humiliation, the scorn and the poverty which are the lot of the lower castes. They never have that bitter experience. Secondly, not only can they never rid themselves of the arrogance born of the belief of being higher or superior, but they cannot cease working for the interests of their class, whether consciously or unconsciously. The Statement of Principles of the Shoshit Samaj Dal, therefore, calls for completely shunning the leadership of the upper castes or upper classes and resolves to make leaders from the crores of the people from lower castes or lower classes. It lays out clearly that under no circumstances will the the upper castes lead the Shoshit Samaj Dal and that this policy will be strictly adhered to even when the party comes to power.  

According to Jagdeo Prasad, the upper castes, pressured by the circumstances, may, to some extent, appear to be advocating economic reforms, but they are rabidly opposed to a socio-economic revolution. They are as opposed to letting the lever of politics and governance slip into the hands of the exploited, as the Americans are opposed to communism. A pertinent question that arises is, what will be the role of the rich in the revolution of the exploited? What will be their place in the nichhakka party of the exploited? This question is relevant because Jagdeo Prasad put the SCs, STs, OBCs and Muslims in the category of the exploited. 

Jagdeo Prasad did not close his eyes to the economic classes that exists within the exploited. He was not in favour of allowing the landed and the rich among the exploited to continue exploiting others. Of course, he believed that none could become a member of the ruling class only because they owned land or were well off. Answering a question, he advocated distribution of the land and the wealth of the capitalists among the exploited to the poor from the same class But he makes a distinction between the exploited and the exploiters of different classes. “The government will face no difficulty in taking away the land and the wealth of the moneyed and the capitalists from the exploited class. But the distribution of the land and the wealth of the upper castes among the exploited will be very difficult because the police, the magistracy, the justice department and politics are dominated by the upper castes.” However he is also aware that even the rich from the backward castes are patrons of the Dwij today. “The Dwij-led Janasangh, Communist Party, Congress, PSP, SSP etc all are surviving on the bounties they receive from the rich of the backward castes. It is the rich of the backward castes who build and patronize temples that sustain Brahmanism.” But he also adds, “Even the rich from the backward castes are coming to the realization that the upper castes continue to exploit them socially. They have come to realize that even though they have money, their social status is lower than even Brahmin beggars.”  

Jagdeo Prasad was optimistic that the “rich from the backward castes may be allies of the Dwij today, but tomorrow they will join our ranks”. But he did not want the party to become a protector of the interests of the rich among the exploited. He did not want to hand over the leadership of the party to them. That was the reason the oath for new members of the Shoshit Samaj Dal read: “I am more than 18 years old. I know that rebirth is a myth and I believe that it is so and I consider those who hold the opposite view as inferior human beings. I hold physical labour in high esteem and do productive physical labour every day.” This brings forth his view clearly that the toiling Bahujan will be the main force behind a social revolution and the party which will bring about this revolution, will be a party of the toiler Bahujan. Jagdeo Prasad’s experiment could not go far but he did lay a foundation. This experiment holds historical significance, especially in the Hindi belt, for giving rise to a transformational Bahujan movement and politics. 


Dr Rajendra Prasad Singh and Shashikala, Jagdeo Prasad Vangmay, Samyak Prakashan, 2028.

Omkar Sharad (ed), Bharat Ke Shashak (Compilation of essays by Ram Manohar Lohia), Lokbharti Prakashan, 2016.

 (Translated from the original Hindi by Amrish Herdenia)

Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +917827427311, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

About The Author

Rinku Yadav

Rinku Yadav is the convenor of Samajik Nyay Andolan, Bihar

Related Articles

Ambedkar the democrat shone in the making of the Indian Constitution
Unlimited powers were not vested in the Indian president. Instead, it was Parliament which was vested with all the powers. That was meant to...
Jagdeo Prasad wanted to forge a national confederation representing the exploited classes
‘DMK has been formed in Madras, Shoshit Dal in Bihar and Rashtriya Shoshit Sangh in Uttar Pradesh to secure freedom from the upper-caste imperialists....
Karpoori Thakur: When the chief minister offered to give a feudal lord a shave
Bharat Ratna Karpoori Thakur was known for his simplicity. He is remembered for granting reservations to the backward classes in Bihar. But do you...
Periyar insisted on proportional representation a century ago
The same Congress Party which Periyar quit about a century ago after it refused to consider proportional representation is now toeing the Periyar line...
As I saw Hari Narke
Drawing inspiration from Dr Ambedkar, Hari Narke acquired an education. He was a brilliant student. While working in Telco, a Tata group company, he...