The educated Dalit doesn’t just want a ride on the bus of democracy; it wants to be at the steering wheels
Maharashtra saw violent protests after clashes between Dalits and some Maratha groups in Bhima Koregaon. Dalits had gathered in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of. These clashes and the subsequent protests brought the focus back on Dalit assertion and its conflict with Hindutva politics. The writer analyses this conflict in this Business Standard Special.The determination and force of the response of the Dalits to the violence at the Bhima Koregaon has unsettled the BJP governments of the state of Maharashtra and the centre. It has also baffled the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This time it has not been easy for the BJP and the governments to denounce the protests the way could do in the past. Previously the Student leaders of the JNU were successfully branded as anti-national. The students and teachers of the Ramjas college of the university of Delhi were also declared anti-national. Before them, the student unrest – mainly led by Dalits – at the central University of Hyderabad was condemned as casteist and anti national. This time the response from the centre’s of power has been slightly complex.
It is true that the RSS tried to blame the violence at the Bhima Koregaon on Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani. It did say that the Bharat tere tukde honge gang was responsible for the violence. But interestingly, this time this allegation could not create the kind of frenzied attack on these leaders as we have seen on the previous occasions directed at Kanhaiya, Umar and others.
Student leader Umar Khalid and the newly elected MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani were targeted specifically. Criminal cases were registered against them claiming that it was their provocative speeches which led to violence. But again, these two leaders have not been pushed to back foot. Instead of going defensive, the Dalit leaders have blamed the RSS for the violence and have been demanding the arrest of Guruji Bhide and Ekbote. Prakash Ambedkar has even allaeged that the PMO is saving these accused. The RSS is struggling. How did it happen? Let us try to understand the new situation.
Jignesh Mevani has made it clear after the atrocity at Una that he wouldn’t let the BJP and RSS have respite even for a moment. He is also articulating an alternative vision of development and politics for the Dalits which is much more than getting representation in the electoral politics for them. Even after entering the assembly in Gujarat through elections he has made it clear that his fight would continue on the streets. ()