Dilip Awasthi and Javed M. Ansari
December 31, 1993
In India, 50 per cent of the media is pro-BJP: Kanshi Ram
He sits in an old chair in the corner of a sparsely furnished and dimly lit room in New Delhi, speaking in a commanding tone and bristling with a new confidence for, at 59, Kanshi Ram has finally arrived in politics.
Taking an almost childish delight in telling his stream of visitors how he succeeded despite dire predictions to the contrary, Kanshi Ram talks in a low voice although his conversation is high on rhetoric when he touches on his favourite theme - the "Brahminical social order".
His euphoria is understandable. Kanshi Ram and his Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have entered the political firmament from virtually nowhere with the help, of course, of his ally Mulayam Singh. Kanshi Ram has seen his party grow from being a fringe force merely nibbling into the votes of the major parties to capturing 67 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Principal Correspondents Dilip Awasthi and Javed M. Ansari asked Kanshi Ram, generally referred to as belonging to a Scheduled Caste, about his future strategy, his contempt for the existing social order and the confusion surrounding his own caste. Excerpts:
Q. Despite so many years in politics you still remain an enigma. Some callyou a Brahmin, others believe you are a former IAS officer while some are convinced that you are a Christian.
A. All this is a media manipulation. As many as 110 cover stories on me have appeared so far and you are still asking me this question. I am fed up of this question and will not answer it. If you want, you can refer to the old records or ask my workers outside.
Uttar Pradesh is the cradle of Brahminism: Kanshi Ram
BSP supremo Kanshi Ram spoke to Special Correspondent Zafar Agha from his Escorts Heart Institute bed in Delhi. Excerpts:
Q. When did your relations with Mulayam Singh Yadav reach a turning point?
A. The panchayat elections were the turning point. There was rigging, booth-capturing, intimidation. Even the BSP was not spared.
Q. Haven't you joined up with a communal party now?
A. The BJP is BJP, the BSP is BSP. The BJP's views are very well known. I don't call it a communal party.
Q. Hasn't the BSP now allied itself with Manuvadi forces?
A. There is no alliance. We have only joined hands as co-sufferers of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Q. Is it very temporary?
A. It is a very temporary liaison. We were interested only in overthrowing a chief minister who was using criminals to throttle the democratic process and was destroying every party.
(Participant of the Dalit Panther movement in the 70s, Sunil Dighe reminisces here about its hopes and failure. The movement would have been 40 today.)
Each nation has its share of movements but some movements are such that they compel society to give a thought to their calls and demands. They have long-term effects. The Dalit Panther was one such thrilling and stormy movement.
In 1972, a small news item appeared in 'Nava Kaal'. Leading Dalit writers were about to come together in a classroom to discuss the ineffective leadership in the Republican Party and find an alternative answer to it.
Litterateurs like Raja Dhale, J V Pawar, Namdev Dhasal, Avinash Mahatekar, Latif Khatik as well as Baburao Bagul and Bhai Sangare were going to attend the discussion. The approved agenda of discussion was the then Republican Party 's submissive stand on the question of Dalits and their leadership wagging its tail before the Congress Party.
Raja Dhale, a fine writer and poet, ran a newsletter using new methods. Its name was 'Vidroh' (rebellion). In 'Vidroh', his articles, poems, thought-provoking and shocking caricatures shot to fame. Namdev had slowly started gaining fame as a poet.
K. C. Sulekh
The renowned author of more than dozen published works on Buddhism and Dr. Ambedkar, Mr. DC Ahir is no more. He breathed his last at his Janakpuri residence of Delhi on 12th July after protracted illness (learnt through my talk on phone with his son Nirmal). Born in 1928 at his native place Baath (Jalandhar), he settled in Delhi as an employee in the central govt. service and retired as Director to the Govt. of India in 1986.
(Renowned Buddhist scholar and Ambedkarite thinker D. C. Ahir passed away on 12th July, 2012)
D. C. Ahir was one of the few Punjabi Ambedkarites who had the honour of sitting in the company of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar at his residence in Delhi. That was the time when a large number of educated young men from Doaba Punjab made a bee line to Delhi for the purpose of seeking government jobs over there and to offer themselves for the mission of Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar. Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar was a Messiah for them. Following the clarion call of his beloved Master (Babasaheb), D.C. Ahir embraced Buddhism and opted for not to take any advantage from the system of caste reservation while keeping himself outside the Hindu fold. He earned all promotions in his job without counting on the policy of reservation. He especially emphasised on this point in one of my conversations with him at the residence of Mr. K. C. Sulekh at Chandigarh.