ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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End of the Dalit Chimera

The decisive electoral defeat of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections certainly ends the chimera created by Kanshi Ram and later, Mayawati that Dalits can be the ruling class in India. The astute electoral games of the BSP worked for it in the short-run, but the logic of caste-arithmetic underlying the Bahujan category and Mayawati’s misdemeanours have cost the party dearly.

The rout of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) may not spell the end of Mayawati as a politician, but certainly ends the chimera created by Kanshi Ram that Dalits can be the ruling class in India. B R Ambedkar, despite his multifarious accomplishments and exhortation to Dalits to become a ruling people (rajyakarti jamat), could not win a single election in post-independence India himself. Dalit leaders such as Damodaram Sanjivayya became the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh (1960–62), but as a Congressman. It was only Kanshi Ram who, with his dogged determination, carved out an independent movement and led it to political victory in the largest state of India. Mayawati, his prodigy, and daughter of a humble government employee, went on to become chief minister of UP four times and was considered a Prime Minister hopeful by pollsters until recently.

Indeed, the BSP had created a veritable chimera for Dalits, reinforcing their confidence in the present political system. Fed on the pride of caste identity, Dalits would not discern the difference between Dalit rule and rule by a Dalit. While the Dalits in UP celebrated Mayawati’s rule as their own and supported her year after year, Dalits outside UP considered it the model to emulate. Even leaders like K G Satyamurthy, who co-founded the dreaded, extreme left Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) (People’s War) along with K Seetharamaiah and the late Bojja Tharakam, had come under its spell before they realised its limitation and got out. But for the multitude of the Dalit masses, it became a persistent promise of emancipation. Alas, this chimera appears to be wearing off, as recent data reveals.

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Updated On : 11th May, 2017

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