At the moment when the Bahujan politics is in deep crisis, we desperately miss Manywar Kanshiram ji. The man who gave the Ambedkarite politics a new confidence and brought it to power structure. It is important to understand what was his politics and how he won the confidence of the people. It is clear that there cannot be any other Kanshiram as he was a man of ideas and action, a man who had close association with his workers and who trusted them.
Distance between politicians and people
The distance between politicians and Janata as well as their
workers is growing in the current time. Politics has become a game of managing
contradictions. The Brahmanical parties realised the growing assertion of the
Ambedkarite activism will be the biggest threat to their survival and therefore
in the last few years a large number of spontaneous protests that emerged from
the universities and in rural India, where the lead was taken by the
Ambedkarite students, was used by the Hindutva parties for their own purposes.
It looked that the Ambedkarite anger would ultimately benefit the Bahujan
parties but at the end the anger could not be politically mobilised.
Right from Rohit Vemula’s death to Una, Saharanpur and now
Ravidas Mandir controversy actually aimed at creating numerous power structure
inside the Dalit polity to harm the BSP. Not that we blame the groups fighting
for the Dalit rights but the complete failure of BSP leadership in bringing
them to a platform. It resulted in disillusionment of a large number of
Ambedkarite activists, scholars as well as other opinion makers with BSP
politics at the moment. Many of them feel that the activists and those who
really believe in Manywar Kanshiram’s ideals are being side-lined as the party
is more keen to cater the upper caste votes. The whole attempt to defend the government
position on Kashmir by Ms Mayawati, using Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s was nothing
but aiming at Uttar Pradesh politics and through it the upper caste votes.
Kanshiram brought youngsters and community leaders
If we look at the working pattern of Manywar Kanshiram, it
was clear that he brought youngsters and community leaders as he had more faith
in those who were working tirelessly for years. BSP became a platform of
diverse Ambedkarites as well as those castes too, who were victims of Brahmanical
order yet might not even heard about Dr Ambedkar and his monumental work. In
politics, you need to bring all together and Kanshiram Saheb was able to do so.
It was the big job. After the demise of Dr Ambedkar, with so many outfits
emerged though RPI was a strong force in many states but never as a challenge
to ruling parties. The power of Kanshiram was to reach to diverse Bahujan
communities who were out of reach for Ambedkarites. That was the biggest
contribution of him to bring all these diverse segments to one identity of
Unfortunately, after his demise things are taking different
shapes. Parties now realise that they don’t need activists and more managers
who can ‘do’ things for leaders. All parties are doing it but BSP is different
as it emerged from Bahujan movement and unfortunately it was also
‘mainstreamed’ or ‘manustreamed’. With so many young Ambedkarites emerging from
different protest movements, raising their voices against oppression and
exploitation as well as seeking accountability from the government and a fair
representation in power structure, it was the most opportune time for BSP to
give space to all these young voices. If Kanshiram were alive today, he would
have used this opportunity more accurately, giving huge responsibilities to our
young Ambedkarites in the party to take lead but very unfortunately, it has not
happened in the party. Young Ambedkarites felt disturbed and deeply
disappointed. They can’t trust the Brahmanical parties and their own party does
not trust them then what do they do?
Hindutva forces used this very well. The growing Ambedkarite
disenchantment with their own polity and it is a great risk. I have always
maintained that it is difficult to make a party in these times when everything
is money and media oriented. Kanshiram ji build the whole edifice of BSP on
people’s trust and that legacy has to continue. BSP has loads of problems and
it has also disappointed but if possible, I would request youngsters to
democratise the party, built it again and reach wider audiences of the Dalit
Bahujan Samaj as Kanshiram Saheb had done.
A majority of political leaders today have so many cases.
Narendra Modi has been able to target his opponent for ‘bhai-bhatijawaad’ and
dynasty. There is no doubt about the fact that political parties have become
private limited companies and family outfits. The one man, who could have
challenged Narendra Modi and was able to build a movement beyond his family and
relations, was Kanshiram. His life was dedicated to the movement and till end
his fulfilled that promise which none of his predecessors were able to do so
which was absolute dedication to Ambedkarite mission and complete delinking of
family from his political issues. If he had done so, he would also have faced
barrage of questions from Brahmanical media but they can’t do so. He was able
to build so many new leaders for the future but alas that does not seem to be
the agenda of the current leadership. It is a wakeup call. We might never have
another Kanshiram as it is not a simple thing to discard all the pleasures of
life and families, but we can take lessons from his work and missionary life to
build the future of our movement.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
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