– By Abhay Madhukar Dongre
Born on March 15, 1934 in a humble Raidasi Sikh (dalit) family in Khawaspur village of Ropar district in Punjab , Kanshi Ram earned his B Sc degree and joined the Explosive Research and Development Laboratory at Kirkee near Pune. He protested on the Job because the Management refused to grant “Holiday” on Ambedkar Jayanti. His contention was when there is a declared holiday on each and every small festival, Gandhi Jayanti, Tilak’s Birthday etc etc why not on the birth anniversary of the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. He took a vow on that day that “Jab tak main is desh se chutti dene walon ki chuttin nahi kar deta, main chain se nahin baithunga”. He never rested afterwards.
He worked initially with the RPI but was disillusioned by its working. He founded ‘BAMCEF’, the All India Backwards and Minority communities Employees Federation on dec-06, 1973 , with the aim of organizing the backward and minority government employees for he knew that a mere small percentage of scheduled castes cannot make the difference. He also knew that any movement needs resources like time, money and brain and the government employees could provide it all. He organized them with an appeal to “pay back to the society” and many plunged into the movement with missionary zeal which spread throughout the country within short period of time. Incidentally many among them were Maharashtrian Ambedkarites from areas nearby Nagpur who supported KanshiRam right from the beginning of his Movement.
The creative genius of KanshiRam can be seen by the names he coined to the various organizations like ‘BAMCEF’, DS-4( Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) or the catchy slogans like ” Jiski Jitni Sankhya Bhari Uski utni Bahagidari”. His idea of Bahujan, a effective and well thought strategy to organize around 6000 castes in India dominated by the evil effects of Brahminism since thousands of years can be attributed as one of the most Pioneering and Novel idea of the millennium.
Sahib Kanshi Ram Ji
He set an example of selflessness, sacrifice, simplicity and devotion in public life.He took a oath to remain a bachelor and to never visit his village until his mission to free the oppressed and marginalized India from the clutches of ruling class is fulfilled. He formed DS-4 in 1981 and within three years transformed it into a full fledged political party ” BSP” -Bahujan Samaj Party with Elephant as symbol, on 14th April i.e. Ambedkar’s Birthday with a slogan ” Vote Hamara Raj Tumhara-Nahin Chalega Nahin Chalega”
Starting with a very few seats in UP Assembly and Loksabha the BSP formed its government in Uttar Pradesh, for the fourth time. The most populous state of India, almost equal to six European nations, the state which has given maximum Number of Prime Ministers to this country and about which is said that the road to Parliament i.e. New Delhi passes through the state of UP has the political heir of KanshiRam, the Iron Lady-Mayawati as the chief Minister. He spread the awareness about the evil effects of “Pune Pact” which gave rise to the ” Chamcha Yug”.
The master strategist himself KanshiRam was the most sought politician in India even when he openly accused the two mainstream political parties, the congress and BJP as Sapnath and Nagnath. His extraordinary organizational capabilities and one man command safeguarded the party from internal splits and also insulated it from outsider horse trading. Still if somebody left the party his reaction was “Jis kisine BSP chodin hain ya BSP ke sath Gaddari ki hain, usne kabhin dubara sansad ya vidhansabha ka muh nahin dekha hain”.
While Dr Ambedkar wrote ” Who were the shudras”, “What congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables” ” Annihilation of Castes” and volumes of books, KanshiRam translated Ambedkarism into workable philosophy through appropriate strategies and tactics and built the powerful ‘BSP’ the third largest national political party in India. If KanshiRam was not born Ambedkarism would have been rotting in the Bookshelves of so called Ambedkarite Literates, dalit poets, scholars and bunch of high class babus who after taking the benefit of reservation given by Ambedkar feel shy of even disclosing their identity of being a scheduled caste. While the Ambedkarites in Maharashtra stored, read and wrote tonnes of books on Ambedkar, KanshiRam effectively spread the idea of Ambedkarism throughout India.
KanshiRam Said “I will not merely sit quite in anticipation that some day or the other caste will be annihilated automatically; but as long as the “caste” is alive, I will continue to use it in the interest of my society”. He successfully used the caste weapon earlier used by upper castes in favour of oppressed castes. His idea behind the formation is ample clear from his observation” What is more important? To become MLA/MP or to run the movement of Babasaheb? According to me it was more important to run the movement of Babasaheb than to become MLA/MP. Therefore I chose to run the movement. For a moment a thought came to my mind that to run the movement effectively we should make our people MLAs/MPs. But the important question was which is the party that will give us MLAs/MPs who will also run the movement of Babasahab. After a lot of thought I reached to a conclusion that such MLAs/MPs can be elected only through our own party.”
The Maharashtrian Ambedkarites:
While the people in Maharashtra fought around 25 years to rename a university in Dr Ambedkar’s Name, the BSP By capturing the power in UP has formed not just one university but many universities for which the people from Maharashtra have been fighting for long time like Shahu Maharaj university at Kanpur, In 1996 Mahatma Phule university and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar university. Apart from this it acquired 200 acre land at Noida for Gautam Buddha Univesity. It created 17 new districts to fasten the process of development and more importantly to honour our heroes by giving their names to these newly formed districts.
He said “I have learned a lot from the people from Maharashtra. I have learned a half lesson for running the Ambedkari movement from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The other half lesson I have learnt from the Mahars of Maharashtra. I have learnt from Babasahab how to run the movement. And from Mahars of Maharashtra I have learned how not to run the movement. To successfully run any movement it is not only sufficient to know how to run the movement but also it is necessary to know how not to run the movement. If you do not know how not to run the movement then you will never be able to know how to run it”.
He said “Now I consider it my responsibility to empower my people so that they will not ask for reservations but they will become capable to give reservations to others. It is easy to understand and say this thing but it is not easy to make it happen. Who is capable of giving reservations? Only the ruling class of people can give reservations to others. Even to enable your own society capable of reaping the benefits and to protect their interests, you have to become a ruling class. Therefore we have to prepare ourselves in the direction of becoming a ruling class in India. We have to become the rulers. It is the solution on most of our problems”.
Today the UP government of BSP is capable of giving reservations not only to scheduled castes but also to economically weaker upper castes thereby completely shutting up the mouths of those talking about economic criteria etc against reservation.
The Historic “The new Reservation initiatives” and Public Private Partnership in which UP government is the first in India to implement reservation in private sector.
A full page Advertisement in all newspapers was enough to send strong signals to the industry and centre that the day is not far when everybody has to follow it. Also when psu’s can be privatized it can also happen vice-versa when BSP comes to power at centre. While the RPI has been demanding reservation in private sector since 1974 with no cognizance being given to its demand and ironically more and more public sector undertakings being privatized, it continued to share power with congress.
This write up shall be too long to cover all the extraordinary measures taken by Mayawati in the short span of 10 months. Those ill informed Ambedkarites accusing her of sacrificing the interests of Scheduled castes should carefully see the historic decision of creating 1 lakh jobs for Valmiky Community in each village. A bold decision to refuse Reliance Retail’s outlets in UP which no other state government could afford to take is a strong signal to capitalists that nothing can be allowed which leads to poor becoming more poor and rich becoming more wealthier.
While in the 1972 Loksabha elections RPI leader Shri Dadasaheb Gaikawad had a meeting with Mohan Dharia of Congress at Pune for a seat sharing agreement. The outcome of the meeting was 425:1 i.e. 425 Congress and RPI-1 “YUTI JHALI”. Today BSP has the power to dictate its terms be it for any cause and even the first woman president of India could not have been selected without the support of BSP. Today there is a beeline of candidates from all castes, religions, sects for BSP tickets and the presence of its cadres and supporters can be seen right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
The Iron Lady:
The BSP and Movement started by KanshiRam has given to the untouchables ‘Mayawati’ the iron lady, the fourth time CM of India’s most populace State, the title of most Powerful political leader of the times much ahead of Sonia Gandhi, L.K.Advani, Vajpaye, Bal Thackrey etc etc. The full majority government of BSP in UP today has become a model of good governance and effective leadership working for ‘Sarvajan Hitay and Sarvajan Sukhay”
One has to salute the BSP leadership for its meticulous mobilization of different castes and religious groups. That is why 64 Dalits, 54 OBCs, 29 Muslims, 21 Brahmins, 18 Thakurs, even few Vaishyas have won from BSP ticket. We should be proud of the fact that we are witness to a historical process in which a political party led and dominated by the Dalits has come to power on in its own, without the support of a mainstream party. With complete media, the Superstars, the capitalists, the industrialists on one side and single lady with organization and leadership skills on other side, Mayawati shocked everyone when results of 2007 elections were declared. While other parties had booklets of Manifesto’s running into pages, BSP had no Manifesto.
Her firm belief is that a “Samta-Mulak Samaj” (a society based on equality — politically, socially, and economically) can be established when there will be “proportionate empowerment.”
International Magazine from US ‘NewsWeek’ ranked Mayawati among top eight women leaders worldwide who have reached the top despite all odds. A national daily in India recently placed Mayawati as the most powerful politician in India much above Advani and Sonia Gandhi and as everyone knows none of the newspaper is controlled by BSP nor any it has control over any TV channel. The BSP is always media averse. Yet there are TV channels, newspapers surveys ranking her as No-1 or so with many even projecting her as Prime Minister of India. Even the International Media has taken the cognizance of the growing power of a lady from an Untouchable caste.
KanshiRam himself never bothered about his critics and as a matter of fact,all political parties essentially did the same but they feigned decency and decorum. What they did surreptitiously, KanshiRam did openly and thus exposed the prevailing double standards in politics. It is interesting to note the people who accused him of political opportunism and unreliability repeatedly sought alliances with him even after his alleged misdemeanor. Those accusing Mayawati of forging an alliance with Brahmins need to revisit the blueprint of RPI which Babasaheb himself prepared, the number of Brahmin leaders he worked with and those who showed willingness to join his political party.
“According to the constitution of RPI the party was not tied to any particular dogma or ideology such as communism or socialism, Gandhism or any other ism. The party was prepared to adopt any plan of social and economic betterment of the people irrespective of its origin and provided it is consistent with its principles. Its outlook is not purely rational and modern but also empiricist and academic”. Moreover one can very well see that it is not the dalits in UP who were touching the feet of Brahmins, it were the Brahmin MLA’s and leaders who are in a race and queuing up to touch the feet of Iron Lady.
The Leaders from other Parties:
While the Congress has the largest number of Scheduled Caste leaders at present right from daughter of Jagjivan Ram miss Meira Kumar, Mata Prasad, Sushil Kumar Shinde etc, there is Ramvilas Paswan who is always with any ruling party provided he is made a minister, Bangaroo Laxman in BJP etc. None of these leaders have been honest enough to address the problems faced by untouchables.
The grand historic rally of Mayawati at Shivajipark, Dadar has certainly sent shockwaves across the untouchable agents of congress who still continue to use Ambedkarite movement as their source of livelihood.
The Maharashtrian Ambedkarites wanted the Sun to rise; there is no doubt about that, but they wished that the Sun should rise after hearing the sound of their cock. As the Sun rose in Uttar Pradesh, without hearing the voice of cock from Maharashtra, the people from Maharashtra pretended that there is no sunrise.
The organisations like “BAMCEF” started by KanshiRam have also split into various groups. While there seems to be no reason for BAMCEF to be headed by different leaders to exist when the original one is still giving direct results. Here again come into picture the Maharashtrian Ambedkarites who also happen to head the two main factions of BAMCEF. While one faction organized the statewise conference in Maharashtra with a topic dedicated to challenge the BSP’s strategy of forming an alliance with Brahmins the other aims at creating a pressure group or force which shall come on streets. The former faced the wrath of a dynamic dalit Beauracrat in Mumbai who termed them as “Intellectually Bankrupt”. Confusing the already confused minds? Those questioning Mayawati arrange conferences with topics as “Belagam hoti Nyayapalika ko Lagam Kaise Lagayi Jain? Don’t they know that it is the Parliament and the elected representatives who can stop the judicial activism?
With every TOM DICK AND HARRY questioning Mayawati, the grassroot BSP and BAMCEF cadres of KanshiRam and Mayawati are busy preparing for Mission-2009 when they wish to see Mayawati as the first Dalit Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy.
One thing is sure that the BSP, KanshiRam and Mayawati have raised a ray of hope in millions of suppressed and marginalized sections of the society that there is at least one party which can make a difference in their lives. Whether the formula used by BSP is called “Social Engineering or Social Transformation”, whether the critics call it caste politics which each and every political party does in India, the dalits in India cannot afford to miss this historical opportunity. As a journalist from south rightly pointed “The question is not what Mayawati can do for dalits, but what dalits can do for themselves when she is around”.
Some information has been taken in verbatim from the articles of the following. I express my acknowledgement to them.
1) KanshiRamji’s Historic Qulalumpur speech.
2) On the Threshold of Social Democracy-Kumari Mayawati.
3) Mayawati’s Social Engineering or Social Transformation- Dr K.Jamnadas.
4) BSP’s Victory is Democratic Win-Prof Dr Vivek Kumar, JNU.
5) An Enigma Called KanshiRam- Dr Anand Teltumbde.
6) A Mayawi Revolution-Dr Anand Teltumbde.
7) On Judging Mayawati- ChittiBabu Padavala.
8) Kanshi Ram Expertise in using Caste Weapon-V.T.Rajshekhar.