Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kanshi Ram: Revolutionary leader of Dalits-Bahujans who changed power equilibrium, transformed Indian politics

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
A decade has passed since Kanshi Ram's death, but the leader of the Bahujan movement, is increasingly remembered, not just by his followers and admirers but also by the opponents.
After all, Kanshi Ram, the leader of the Bahujans--Dalits, backward and oppressed classes, in North India, changed the face of Indian politics. 
It was a lifelong struggle for him. Having taken a pledge early in his life to bring a transformation in Indian society and change the equilibrium of power in the country, Kanshi Ram, travelled across the country on bicycle to spread awakening and took the message of Dr BR Ambedkar to the Dalits, in order to bring about a social-political revolution. 
Kanshi Ram founded DS4, BAMCEF and later his most successful project--the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which headed by his protege Mayawati turned the caste wheel back, after many millennia, in Uttar Pradesh.

[Birth Anniversary: March 15, 1934]

Though born in Punjab, Kanshi Ram, realised that it was Uttar Pradesh, where his politics could succeed. Kanshi Ram was unlike Dalit leaders who played second fiddle in Congress or the other political parties.

"I will never get married, never acquire property, never visit my home, devote and dedicate my life to achieve the goals of Phule-Ambedkar movement', that was his pledge, which he had taken earlier in his life.
There was an inherent aggression in him, the anger over injustice, oppression with millions of Dalits [Scheduled Castes (SCs)] over centuries.

The slogans like 'Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar, inko maro joote chaar', irked the Upper Castes [Savarnas].
But Kashi Ram was unperturbed. He turned the BSP into a major force in the country.

First, alliance with SP, and later forcing Congress to be a junior partner in elections in UP, BSP emerged as the party of Dalits. A section of Muslims voted for BSP, enthusiastically.
The fact that BSP couldn't capitalize on Muslim anger with Congress, completely is another story. When BSP came to power, Dalits felt empowered in UP, a state where casteism is rampant and casteist discrimination remains an order of life. 
Kashi Ram was born in a Ramdasia family in Punjab on March, 15 1934. He passed away in 2006. By then, he had ensured that Dalits had acquired power in UP, and Mayawati had been chief minister twice by then. Unfortunately, Mayawati failed to expand the party further.
Though she has managed to hold reins of power and kept BSP united, Behenji hasn't allowed a secondary, junior leadership to emerge in the party. However, Kanshi Ram's success, in acquiring power and in awakening the Dalits, is unparalleled.