Serious trouble might be brewing for the BJP with Dalit anger building against them. It is because of Upper caste high-handedness in a village near Saharanpur last month, described as the communal lab of the country.
This has the portends of uniting the 21 per cent Dalits in the country in the wake of any fresh eruption of Dalit-Rajput clashes. Experts say Dalit youth are angry and if the excesses against them is not stopped, the chances of civil disturbances cannot be ruled out.
The prospects of western UP becoming the nerve centre of Dalit politics is a possibility. Simultaneously, Dalit youth across the state have come together to challenge the attack on their community. They have also begun using the social media, taking strong exception to the increasing abuses against their icons, including B R Ambedkar and Mayawati.
Activists of the Hindutva lobby always had two enemies — Muslims and Dalits. The minority community has been fearful of the BJP regime which is now ruling both at the centre as well in the crucial and most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.
Dalits have become easy target. The Rajputs appear to have been emboldened with Yogi Adityanath becoming the chief minister who is himself a Rajput. Considering the castes complexities in UP, it is widely apprehended that caste tormentors are back along with untouchability. Experts believe UP could well become the nerve-centre of the country’s Dalit politics in the coming days.
After the election results became known these experts apprehended trouble by Hindutva activists. Any such disturbance was attributed to the upper castes which could not tolerate political empowerment of Dalits.
They are now taking revenge, committing attrocities. The upper castes also resent the Jai Bheem slogan which is a symbol of the empowerment of Dalits. For a while in the wake of disunity among its ranks, the Dalit movement had weakened. With the community votes divided in different parties they are now realising their political blunder.
Dalit aggression can provoke Muslims to retaliate. All this is bound to adversely affect BSP supremo Mayawati who as the flag bearer of the Dalits was defeated lock, stock and barrel in both the general elections in 2014 and in the recent assembly elections. Her stock has hit an all time low.
The BJP won a stunning victory after a gap of 17 years in UP. The SP as the other regtional heavyweight also came a cropper having been in power on its own for five years from 2012.
The BJP’s strategy of wooing the OBCs among the Muslims as well as the Dalits paid rich dividends. However, Saharanpur is again in the eye of a storm for all the wrong reasons.
The clashes after Yogi Adityanath was installed as the chief minister, has compelled the BJP brass to caution the chief minister impressing upon him to ensure that Thakur-Dalit clashes did not spread to other districts in the state. He has been asked to ensure he ensures even handedness in administering the state.
The Dalits have alleged collusion between Yogi Adityanath and his caste breathern. There is fear among the Dalits that the dominant Thakur community will continue to harass them and is trying to force them to leave the village. Open threats were being issued and their women allegedly eve teased in the open.
The DM and the SSP assured them that police had been deployed in the village and nobody would harm them. In the clashes two people died and 40 people seriously injured along with nearly 60 houses being burnt down. This happened on May fifth when the Thakurs took out a Maharana Memorial procession.
With the BJP indulging in majoritarian politics and continuing attacks on Muslims by the self styled gau rakshaks in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana ruled by it.
This has created fear and discrimination against Muslims. Dalits are reaching out to Muslims for mutual support and solidarity. The Bhim Army, spearheaded by a young lawyer, Chandrashekhar, seen as a replacement for Mayawati, is seeking cooperation from the Yadavs, Valmikis and other OBCs. With deprivation and discrimination binding them, they see a common adversary in the upper caste led Lotus party.
By TIS Staffer
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January 21, 2021