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

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From ‘Uprising’ to ‘Movement’

Dalit Resistance in Gujarat

Populist radicalism with the demand for land is one register. Caste-based social antagonism is the other register. Following the Una uprising, the criss-crossing of these two registers defines the essence of the Dalit resistance in Gujarat today. Uprising/movement, Samiti/Manch are terms clarifying the nature of this criss-crossing.

Is Gujarat, Hindutva’s laboratory, on the cusp of turning into Hindutva’s Waterloo? As state elections come closer, Dalits, a mere 7% in the state, might yet play a critical role. The “foot-soldiers of Hindutva” might turn into its killers. They are not repeating the old shibboleths of secularism or constitutional democracy, but charting out a new path and form of political assertion—what could become a non-Congress, non-“third front” opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This much was clear from this writer’s participation in the Azadi Kooch, the Dalit asmita padyatra from Mehsana to Dhanera in north Gujarat, 11–18 July 2017.

Consider this. Jignesh Mevani, the leader of the militant Dalit movement in Gujarat (Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, RDAM), presents a portrait of Bhagat Singh to Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patels. The occasion is Patel’s “home-coming” into Gujarat in January 2017. The leader of the dominated caste and the leader of the dominant caste find common ground in opposing the ruling government. But the Patels are traditional BJP supporters and unlike the Dalits have no sharp contradiction with Hindutva.

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Updated On : 22nd Aug, 2017
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