Dr C S Dwarakanath
Jignesh Mevani, a young dalit leader who has inspired many across the country with his protests against the flogging of Dalits in Una, Gujarat, along with Lolaksha, a dalit intellectual from Karnataka and myself were travelling from Mangalore Airport to Udupi for the valedictory event of the Udupi Chalo Rally which was inspired by the Una protests. Jignesh was speaking enthusiastically, matching his youth. He told us about the helplessness of the 6.9% dalits in Gujarat and the policies against them by the state and Central BJP Government. I was impressed with Jignesh's preparation before his visit to Karnataka as he was aware of atrocities on Dalits, Muslims and Bahujans by the Bajrang Dal, Sangh Parivar and other 'cow terrorists' in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chickmagalur. My respect grew for this young lad for his commitment to Dalit identity at a time when so-called Dalit leaders, who have lost self-respect, are joining Manuvadi parties.
"You have raised your voice against the BJP who are the ruling party in both the Central Government and in the state of Gujarat. The atrocities on Dalits, Muslims and Bahujans in Karnataka state is done by the people of Sangh Parivar but the Congress Government is in power here. Law and order is the responsibility of the state Government, so who will you speak against if the Government here is not controlling the atrocities satisfactorily and thereby, indirectly, helping the Sangh Parivar?'' I asked Jignesh. He started thinking about this.
I continued, "you raised the issue of distributing land to Dalits and the oppressed.This also comes under the state government purview. It is nearly four years since the Congress Government came to power here. Until now Bagar Hukum land, government land which can be allotted to a landless person by the Government, has not been distributed to Dalits and the oppressed. Ten lakh acres need to be allocated. The government here doesn't seem to be concerned. Please also think about this.''
"Does it mean that there is no difference between Congress and the BJP?" confused Mevani asked innocently.
Who actually is Manuvadi? Just the Sangh Parivar? Are many other parties masking their true colours? I needed to find answers to many of these questions for myself. My thoughts went towards the history of Congress, Jotiba and Savitribai Phule's movement, Babasaheb Ambedkar's writings. I started thinking, with my limitations of understanding.
Mahatma Jotiba Phule founded 'Satya Shodhak Samaj' in 1873 and together with Savitribai Phule had founded many schools for Dalit Bahujans. People with Brahminical mindsets who didn't like this wanted to counter the influence of Phule's Satya Shodhak movement and started Arya Samaj, Sarvajanik Sabha and used Brahmo Samaj in the name of social reformation. The British also came forward to offer Subedar posts to Bahujans. This was not liked by the Vaidiks. Around this time the Indian National Congress was formed. From then on in the name of national interests, protection of Vipras started. Dr Ambedkar has written in detail about how Congress never had any intention of finding solutions to social problems. The situation remains the same today.
In 1902 Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur gave Dalit Bahujans 50% reservation and the person who opposed this the most was Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the then President of Congress! During the Congress conference in 1925, stones were thrown at Periyar because he demanded representation for non-Brahmins. Periyar revolted by saying: "To destroy Congress, formed to protect Brahminism, is my duty from this day.'' This finished off Congress in Tamil Nadu and laid the foundation for Shudra politics. Congress, which died then in Tamil Nadu, has not opened its eyes since.
Events which happened later revealed their true colours. There were many atrocities on Dalits and Muslims during the Congress rule: the carnage in Kambalpalli happened during Congress rule in Karnataka. The Congress was in power and had the military, police under its control when Sangh Parivar destroyed Babri Masjid. No attempts were made to stop it and they silently cooperated. Obviously a joint venture to destroy Babri Masjid by Sangh Parivar and Congress.
According to the BJP government's investigation Rohit Vemula was not a Dalit and he committed suicide for personal reasons, and the Dalit poet, Hucchangi Prasad, was not attacked according to the Congress government's investigation. Reservation in the private sector and Sachar Committee report was not implemented during Congress rule, showing the Brahminical mindset of Congress.
Today Congress and Communists are arguing that during BJP rule the atrocity cases have increased to 47064 from 33594 in 2009. Yes it is true that atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims have increased during BJP rule. We need to be concerned about this and addressing it is the responsibility of democratic citizens. But how did 33594 atrocities happen during Congress Government? Who is going to take responsibility for this? Who will give answer to this?
Karnataka Congress and Communist intellectuals have developed an inseparable bonding. If communists really believed in their ideology they would, understandably, be allies of the Bahujan movement but why instead are they allied to Congress? The psychological reason for this is caste and the pragmatic reason is to be closer to power. Some of the communist youngsters' wooing of and obsequiousness to Congress is loathsome.
The sad part is people like Chiranjivi Singh who worked ably with Devaraj Urs are commenting about the corruption of the current Congress Government. But the progressive communist intellectuals who have become the 'shock absorbers' for Congress are not raising a voice. For the last four years they have only fought for the anti-superstition bill and that too without hurting the image of the Congress government.
A long time ago I had interviewed Veeramani, the DK leader from Tamil Nadu, for 'Lankesh Patrike' (Kannada weekly) and had asked: "What is your opinion on CPM?" He responded: "What can I say? The meaning is in the words, Communist Party of Manuvada." I had left in anger. Slowly, as I started noticing casteism amongst communists, their love and alliances with Manuvadi Congress, unnecessary hatred, jealousy of the way in which a distance is kept from the Dalit Bahujan movement and no leadership positions to be given to Dalits, I felt what Veeramani told me that day is nearer to the truth. Then when I read what Babsaheb Ambedkar had written in detail on communists I started to understand that this is not the problem of Marx, Lenin and Mao but the problem of Indian 'intelligent casteist communists' who were trying to implement communism. When we see the closeness of CPM with Congress a doubt arises if it is the Congress Party of Manuvada.
For all these reasons, the Congress party which can't come out from under the grip of Kashmir Brahmins, BJP out of Nagpur Brahmins and Communists out of Bengali Brahmins: they can never accept Dalit or Adivasi leadership and won't tolerate any ruling by them. No doubt all of these parties have become Manuvadi parties.
Disagreements between BJP-Congress-Communist feels like fixed fights between 'pure' and 'progressive' Brahmins. Dalit Bahujans who have lost directions and self respect will become a catch in the middle and might make a small noise. Until they have suffered severe knocks and understood the hidden agenda of the leaders of different parties they won't understand the advice of anyone else.
The car was moving towards Udupi. Lolaksha was chatting with Mevani at length. I was wondering what to say and not say to Mevani from what I had thought and was lost in my thinking. I was answering mechanically when Mevani asked questions. By then we had reached Udupi.
Translated from Kannada by Sridhar Gowda. It was originally published in Kannada in the Mooknayak column of Dr C S Dwarakanath in Kannada Prabha.
Dr C S Dwarakanath is former chairman of the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission.