Ambedkarites, Tribals, Leftists & Muslims alliance – An electoral compulsion.
On 1st Jan 2018, Ambedkarites (read Dalits) were attacked near Bhima Koregaon, where they had been to pay homage to the soldiers mattered in a 200 yr old battle between the Peshwa and the British. The army of the British had considerable presence of Mahars (Dalits) and also other depressed class along with Muslims.
Today, this battle, is seen as an assertion of the ‘Dalit Identity’. Due to reservations the Dalits have been able to level up on economic front. But, their culture and social acceptance still seems to be looked through a lens of caste. This battle has not been taught in school textbooks, maybe the authors of the history textbook were unaware or selectively skipped this. The assertion is now on historical and cultural grounds. Food, for example, which was diet of the upper class has been projected to be state food, ignoring millions of lower caste who never had the luxury to eat that meal. The lower caste food hardly finds space in food books, cooking shows or even a mention that this meal exists.
Reservation in jobs, has given the Dalits, to upscale in economic front. But, political reservation has not been able to give them their due space, recognition and failed to assert their identity. The number of seats, as per the reservation, are filled by an SC/ST candidate. That is end of it. Only headcount remains, their voice is decided by the forces in power and they fine to be manipulated for small term gains.
Choose any random reserved constituency, as all the candidates contesting are from, say, SC community, the winner will be a SC community person. S/He is expected to be voice in the assembly or parliament. All the SC candidates look to win with the support of ‘their’ people and the votes are divided among the candidates. The non SC votes are the ones who decide the winner in this reserved seat. As India follows a counting system, First Past the Post (FPTP), the outcome is decided on thin margin and it can even be as low as 1 vote. An average winning candidate gets around 30-35% of the total votes polled. There have been winners who got less than 10% of the total votes polled.
Hence, the winner even though belongs to SC/ST, may not be their ‘true’ representative and shall be inclined to serve the upper caste and party whip. Dalit/tribal questions shall not be raised or given importance, their budget allocation is hardly done and the money is sent back unused.
It is here the governance issue begins. Even though there is ‘token’ representation, their voice, their culture, their aspirations is not highlighted. Their history is side-lined. Over 70 yrs, Dalits have been experimenting with different parties to seek this assertion but have failed. The architecture of FPTP shall simply not allow them to challenge the current system. The vote share of Dalits is scattered across, they themselves shall not able to pool 30% to the winning candidate and also the number of candidates contesting shall break it down further.
But, when the Dalits, Leftists, Tribals and Muslims join hands in an electoral alliance, they shall be a big force. The challenges presented by FPTP can only be overcome with such a community alliance.
The onus of this alliance lies with the educated Ambedkarties and left-leaning individuals. The Muslims have been subjected to terror time and again, they are branded Anti-National and hence are living in ghettos, fearing their lives. It’s wrong to expect from them to come out openly and stand for their own rights. The moment they do, the ‘nationalism’ debate is sparked off. They have chosen to be in this country when the option was given. Questioning their nationalism is a crime. The Adivasi and Tribals are branded Naxalites. Their voices are rarely heard, due to their population they are mainly confined to the tribal belts. Leftists are also branded anti-national and Maoist. The overall percentage now being very low and decreasing. The only community left to take on this task is Ambedkarites.
Ambedkarties are also brainwashed by a concept of ‘Bahujan’ and ‘Mulnivasi’. While Ambedkarites are challenging caste domination and caste discrimination, the idea of Bahujan and Mulnivasi comes as an irony. Caste, Bahujan and Mulnivasi all the three are decided on basis of ‘Birth’. Hence one cant be selective to choose what suits the needs. All three have to be condemned in equal voice. Due to the thought of Bahujan and Mulnivasi, Ambedkarites are losing on many well-wishers and alliance partners.
Recently I checked postings of some Ambedkarites who were against Jignesh joining hands with Kanhaiya, this narrow-minded approach has always been helpful to the elite class and caste.
If one goes back in history, Ambedkar himself started Independent Labour Party. Now will these followers of Ambedkar say that he was wrong to do so? It was dissolved due to caste conflicts within the workers, and hence Ambedkar wanted to address caste first so Schedule Caste Federation was born. That doesn’t mean Ambedkar was anti-left, he simply choose to address caste first. Towards the end of his life, he dissolved SC Federation, and Republican Party was in womb, which was born after his demise.
Republican Party had given tickets to many Brahmins, noted among them was Pralhad Keshav Atre. To be noted here is that, even though P K Atre was a figure of high calibre and was writer, a poet, an educationist, a newspaper founder–editor, a political leader, a movie producer-director–scriptwriter and above all, a noted orator his name has been sidelined. His name hardly finds a reference in speeches of leaders, eminent personalities.
Violence has to be condemned, but the intellectual violence that some Ambedkarites have for the left has to be condemned first. They have to read beyond Ambedkar to understand current times.
If they have to make changes, with the compulsion of FPTP, the only way for them is to join hands with Left, Muslims and Tribals/Adivasis. Else, be prepared for another five years of a fascist regime