Post Mortem

Political parties claim as pro dalit-indegenous, but …

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/20/2021 1:05:03 PM IST

 Since Independence national as well as regional political parties of all shades keep claiming that they are pro Dalit-Tribal. Put together, Dalits and indigenous communities constitute more than one-fourth of India’s population. Therefore, these two communities form the critical edge, formidable permutation and combination to the electoral process as well as power politics.  Hence, all the political parties vie with each other for capturing power at the Centre and the states in India. And for that political parties of all shades realize now than ever before that the indigenous and Dalit votes are important and thus adopt diverse strategies to woo them. Promises range from one party to other—in the name of politics. 

In the post-independent India,for instance, the status of the indigenous and Dalit communities in terms of educational, social, political, cultural and economic aspects have not moved-up even after seven decades. When compared to others—the top and the middle communities moved up in the socio-economic, politico-cultural and educational rungs systematically, but the bottom layer comprised of the Dalits and the indigenous communities remain the same. For example, secondary, graduate, post-graduate and higher levels of education – where are the indigenous and Dalit communities?

The terrains of the indigenous and Dalit communities live reveal brutal atrocities and heinous crimes committed and perpetuated by the “dominant” communities. Everyday we come across incidents that reflects oppressive tendencies unleashed against the indigenous and Dalit communities ranging from gang rapes to killings to discriminatory practices and boycotts and what not. The forms and types of atrocities meted out by these two communities have been varying and horrendous as years go-by. 

Political parties from Congress to BJP to Left to SP to BSP to TDP to ADMK to DMK to JDS to different regional parties that exclusively talks about indigenous and Dalits’ welfare, progress and development have failed to translate what they wrote in the manifestos of their parties. Indigenous people are treated as ‘vanachals’ and Dalits are considered as ‘avarnas’ even in the year 2021. These two communities are increasingly treated as sheer ‘vote banks’ and as sheer ‘objects’.

Political parties promise many things to the indigenous and Dalit communities, but once voted to power, they are forgotten. Though things are changing little bit, but still under their benevolence. Votes of the indigenous and Dalits ‘decide and are crucial to the political parties. Take for example,the programmatic interventions of RSS which is the heart of BJP posits antagonistic tenor against these two communities. Basically, BJP and its cultural apparatus, RSS is Brahmin and Kshatriya—dominated party. It believes in the system of caste. 

Nonetheless, for the sakes of votes RSS-BJP has changed its strategy systematically and, in the process, appropriating indigenous and Dalit communities into their fold. For instance, in order to capture the state of West Bengal, BJP went all out wooing the electorates with all sorts of narratives especially the indigenous and Dalitcommunities.CPI (M) ruled the State of West Bengal, followed by Congress, and TMC,for about 70-odd years. Indigenous and Dalit communities in the last seven decades have notmade any significant progress and development in their lives. 

West Bengal being the entry point of North-East, BJP, in 2021Assembly elections in West Bengalis going all out.  For example, PM Modi said in the campaign rallies that “the countdown to Didi’s exit begins on Bangla Nababarsha”, referring to Polia Baisakh on April 15. People scored boundaries and over-boundaries in the first four phases, taking the BJP rally to 100. This is making her angry. Her people are abusing Scheduled Castes and Tribes because they are voting for BJP,”at all three election meetings in Burdwan, North 24 Parganas and Nadia.

All the three districts have a substantial chunk of SC/ST voters. In such a climate, a TMC functionary said that “Scheduled Caste people were like beggars”. Responding to it, PM Modi said “It is a great humiliation for BR Ambedkar’s legacy when the country is getting set for celebrating his birth anniversary. Why is Didi silent? Humiliating the Dalits is Didi’s biggest mistake.” It reveals the mind-set of the casteist politicians. However, politicians keep twisting their narratives as they want, PM Modi is one such case.In politics one shall never expect any decency and decorum. 

BJP is eulogizing indigenous and Dalit communities for votes. But, within, BJP-RSS has been consistent in its attack on indigenous and Dalit communities. Since 2014, India has been witnessing how the Dalits and indigenous communities are being treated. Violence and atrocities against the Dalits in particular are on the rise at all levels, more particularly in the BJP-ruled states. Consumption of beef is banned in BJP-ruled states. For Dalits and indigenous people beef is the staple food. 

In the name of “Honor Killing”, if dominant caste Hindus marries Dalit women or men are physically eliminated from the face of the earth. Needless to say, even in recent times narratives and slurs used against these communities have hit the low levels—India is a caste-riddensociety. In one of the reserved constituencies in West Bengal, where PM Modi was on campaign mode, a reporter interacted with a section of those who came to attend largely Dalitssaid that PM Modi was an incarnation of god. 

The game starts wherein PM Modi invokes BR Ambedkar and went to the extent saying “Dalits are like gods in a democracy” and the Dalits say that PM Modiwould take them to different levels—happening two days prior to Ambedkar’s Jayanthi. Utterances such as these makes us to wonder how could the victims again and again fall into the traps of the casteist forces. Further, it makes some of us to raise a question: why should the Dalits and the indigenous communities enter into pre-poll or post-poll alliances and tie-ups with the parties that are against their freedom, equality, liberty and indiscriminately use them as their vote banks? 

It is a known fact that Dalits and indigenous communities live in volatile settings with fear and insecurity.Eevery index and data in which we find that these two communities’ figure at the bottom of the Tables. Purely because of these reasons,BR Ambedkar renounced the religion he was born into which functions on a schema premised on birth and occupation and division of laborers., and shall never die in the same religion. He advocated to annihilate the system of caste which is the root of all evils. 

If this is so, why should the Dalits embrace political party like BJP and revere PM Modi as their leader? It is complex and yet sensibilities of the Dalit and indigenous communities are so deep and hard to understand. To understand some of these complex things, one should never venture into superficial analysis, but needs deeper inquiry and understanding. These two communities per se are organic and rooted in their own world views. Pragmatism runs deep into immanent and transcendent dialectic filled with vicissitudes.

Dr. John Mohan Razu.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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