Dalit Politics Needs A New Radical Alternative

 

- SR Darapuri

 

Rohith Vemula's tragic suicide has revealed what great price a Dalit has to pay even today for living with his ideas and convictions, with his desire for liberty and equality. And how the battle for justice to him/her is an almost impossible, a lost case.

 

Rohith was not living in a Dalit locality. Rather, he was a promising student in the central university of Hyderabad, studying for the highest degree that this country can offer. Countrywide protests were held against his institutional murder but the ruling establishment crossed all limits in crushing these protest movements.

 

This episode is enough to understand as to what is happening in the far-off rural Dalit localities or urban slums, and what is the quality of justice that they might be getting for crimes committed against them. Even after 6 decades since the demise of BabaSaheb, his dream of dalit liberation is not only unfulfilled but faces newer challenges.

 

A small section of dalits has acquired economic prosperity and security but even for them it`s not easy to get a house on rent in Indian cities disclosing their Dalit identity, let alone social intercourse and equal treatment ! It is an indicator how far the mission of caste annihilation has progressed in India. In totality, dalits are still outcast from the dominant socio-political- economic structure of the country.

 

A microscopic minority of dalits has gained some sort of economic security, thanks to their government jobs, and even a smaller section, which is only drop in the ocean, has acquired prosperity in the private sector. Remaining overwhelming majority of dalits engaged in all sorts of unskilled manual labour on meager salary/wages/incomes is forced to live in inhuman conditions.

 

Dalits, today, are the worst victims of pro-corporate economic policies- dismantling of public sector including government jobs, ever widening scope of privatization where there is no provision for reservations nor any security, thanks to the gross dilution and violation of labor laws, ever rising cost of education and health services now being handed over to private sector etc. Dalits today are reeling under the twin burden of the barbaric remnants of old Brahmanical-feudal structure as well as ever intensifying exploitation of new corporate capitalism.

 

What is the way out?

How will a new society and polity emerge which would be based on equality, liberty and fraternity, where castes would be annihilated, where there would be guarantee of dignified life-jobs, education and health for all? Obviously, here, the role of the state policies will be decisive.

 

It is crystal clear that it is the social forces and the policies represented by BJP and Congress which are responsible for the plight of dalits. So, they can never serve their interests. Although, today, both are engaged in fierce competition to project themselves as champions of Dalit interests and appropriate BabaSaheb in their own ideological-political framework.

 

Can the ideological-political orientation of Mayavati resolve the crisis/challenges faced by dalits today and ultimately pave the way for Dalit liberation? Answer to this question depends on the fact whether she has an alternative to those policies which are responsible for the present miserable state of dalits. Also, can she muster enough will power to implement such alternative policy frame-work? Unfortunately, Mayavati`s politics and experiences of her tenures in power as UP Chief Minister don’t subscribe to the above expectations.

 

It`s true that once BAMCEF,DS4 and BSP succeeded in generating immense political enthusiasm and initiative among dalits who were rightly disillusioned from Congress but over the years, with the advent of Sarvajan politics of Mayavati, BSP has become indistinguishable from the status-quoist mainstream politics. It no more has any distinct identity-either in terms of political culture (corruption. money and muscle power, personality cult, undemocratic methods of party functioning, opportunist alliances etc.), or at the level of policies.

 

What sort of value system is glorified when the slogan of “Haathee nahin Ganesh hai” (It is not elephant but Ganesh) is raised in BSP rallies? Invoking Brahmanical symbols and forging caste alliances only gives legitimacy to the hierarchical caste-based social structure and thought process of social inequality. As a result the Dalit dream of a casteless egalitarian society becomes even more remote. Did Dr. Ambedkar ever did all this? Most importantly, Mayavati government implemented the same pro-corporate policies of Congress-BJP whose worst victims are the dalits.

 

Today, unless the dismantling of public sector and jobs stops and provision for reservation is made in private sector how can there be betterment for dalits? Unless privatization of education and health services and hence their turning into industries of profiteering is stopped, how can Dalit masses acquire them? Unless there is all round development of small-marginal farming, how can Dalit peasants survive? Unless the land usurped by Maths-Mahants-landgrabbers and the new corporate landlords is distributed among landless peasants and labourers, how can there be any upliftment in the life of rural Dalit poor?

 

Without curbing corruption, without stopping loot of astronomical sums of bank loans by corporate houses and huge tax concessions to them, without increasing taxes on corporate, how will the capital be generated for education, health, agricultural and industrial development? Without generation of massive job opportunities, how will the dalit workforce get job and livelihood? Without assault on Brahmanical-casteist forces, symbols and value-system, how will the castes be annihilated and betterment of dalits is ensured?

 

Without an end to the political culture of personality cult-corruption-money and muscle power-opportunist casteist and communal alliances, how will a healthy democratic environment be created where genuine political representation of dalits may emerge and where they may acquire their respectful share and place in the state structure and society? Without an uncompromising struggle against the forces of Brahmanical-feudal and corporate capital as well as their policies, how can there be true Dalit liberation?

 

Dalits are located on the bottom of Hindu social pyramid. Hence in their liberation lies the liberation of the whole society and dalits can be liberated only with the liberation of the entire society. Therefore it is task of the Dalit movement to organize itself as an independent political force and uniting with all other oppressed sections march for building a democratic society and radical political structure. The new awakening manifest in the Dalit students as well as broader student movement clearly shows that the existing socio-cultural political structure is not commensurate with their deeper democratic aspirations. They want to chart out a new path. They are trying to develop movements for establishing genuinely pro-people democratic polity and society.

 

Today country needs such a political platform which is committed for liberation of dalits as well as whole society with an alternative pro-people policy framework, democratic value- system as well as politics. Vision of AIPF (All India Peoples Front) is to develop precisely such a political platform. All India Peoples Front (Radical) is a mass political platform dedicated to the goal of ushering in a humane society free of exploitation and alienation. It stands committed to end the present exploitative and unjust social and economic order. It envisions the establishment of a social and economic order which is people- centric and eco-friendly; which is inspired by the principles of equality and solidarity; and which ensures a life of dignity for all.

 

The ruling class has made common cause with the global oligarchy of corporate capital and speculative finance capital. It is blindly going in for greater and deeper integration with these global forces even as the neo-liberal economic order is facing its deepest crisis in the very hub of the global capital. AIPF(R) believes that the present conjuncture which is marked by this sinister collaboration has rendered the task of striving for the goal more urgent.

 

The ravages inflicted by the two decades of neo-liberal policies on the broad masses of people have further exacerbated the long standing deprivation and disparity in the society. The small and marginal peasantry, landless labour, craftsmen, workers in the organized, unorganized and informal sectors, women workers and the so-called ‘self- employed’ have borne the brunt while a miniscule number in the upper most echelons have earned wealth and income as never before. The middle classes who were enamoured of the neo-liberal policies until recently are progressively getting disillusioned and will be compelled by the circumstances, sooner rather than later, to decide on whose side they stand: the ruling class or working people.

 

To divert attention from the main challenge facing the people, systematic attempts are being made by the ruling class to foment dissension and division and even engineer conflicts among common people. Another aspect of this cynical project is instigation of chauvinist and jingoist stance towards the important neighbouring countries. Which, besides serving as a diversionary tactic, fits in with the strategic design of the global superpower, the home of the global capital?

 

At the same time, in the name of enforcing “law and order”, the space for democratic dissent and mobilization is being drastically curtailed. What is worse, under the camouflage of uncritical and superficial slogans of “development” and “governance”, fascistic tendencies are emerging with the encouragement and support of the corporate capital intent on acquiring complete control of the state apparatus.

 

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