At the moment when the Bahujan politics is in deep crisis, we desperately miss Manywar Kanshiram ji. The man who gave the Ambedkarite politics a new confidence and brought it to power structure. It is important to understand what was his politics and how he won the confidence of the people. It is clear that there can not be any other Kansiram as he was a man of ideas and action, a man who had close association with his workers and who trusted them.
The distance between politicians and janata as well as their workers is growing in the current time. Politics has become a game of managing contradictions. The brahmanical parties realised the growing assertion of the Ambedkarite activism will be the biggest threat to their survival and therefore in the last few years a large number of spontenous protests that emerged from the universities and in rural India, where the lead was taken by the Ambedkarite students, was used by the Hindutva parties for their own purposes. It looked that the Ambedkarite anger would ultimately benefit the Bahujan parties but at the end the anger could not be politically mobilised.
Right from Rohit Vemula’s death to Una, Saharanpur and now Ravidas Mandir controversy actually aimed at creating numerous power structure inside the Dalit polity to harm the BSP. Not that we blame the groups fighting for the Dalit rights but the complete failure of BSP leadership in bringing them to a platform. It resulted in disillusionment of a large number of Ambedkarite activists, scholars as well as other opinion makers with BSP politics at the moment. Many of them feel that the activists and those who really believe in Manywar Kanshiram’s ideals are being sidelined as the party is more keen to cater the upper caste votes. The whole attempt to defend the government position on Kashmir by Ms Mayawati, using Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s was nothing but aiming at Uttar Pradesh politics and through it the upper caste votes.
If we look at the working pattern of Manywar Kanshiram, it was clear that he brought youngsters and community leaders as he had more faith in those who were working tirelessly for years. BSP became a platform of diverse Ambedkarites as well as those castes too, who were victims of brahmanical order yet might not even heard about Dr Ambedkar and his monumental work. In politics, you need to bring all together and Kansiram Saheb was able to do so. It was the big job. After the demise of Dr Ambedkar, with so many outfits emerged though RPI was a strong force in many states but never as a challenge to ruling parties. The power of Kansiram was to reach to diverse Bahujan communities who were out of reach for Ambedkarites. That was the biggest contribution of him to bring all these diverse segment to one identity of Bahujan Samaj.
Unfortunately, after his demise things are taking different shapes. Parties now realise that they dont need activists and more managers who can ‘do’ things for leaders. All parties are doing it but BSP is different as it emerged from Bahujan movement and unfortunately it was also ‘mainstreamed’ or ‘manustreamed’. With so many young Ambedkarites emerging from different protest movements, raising their voices against oppression and exploitation as well as seeking accountability from the government and a fair representation in power structure, it was the most opportune time for BSP to give space to all these young voices. If Kansiram were alive today, he would have used this opportunity more accurately, giving huge responsibilities to our young Ambedkarites in the party to take lead but very unfortunately, it has not happened in the party. Young Ambedkarites felt disturbed and deeply disappointed. They cant trust the brahmanical parties and their own party does not trust them then what do they do ?
Hindutva forces used this very well. The growing Ambedkarite disenchantment with their own polity and it is a great risk. I have always maintained that it is difficult to make a party in these times when everything is money and media oriented. Kanshiram ji build the whole edifice of BSP on people’s trust and that legacy has to continue. BSP has loads of problems and it has also disappointed but if possible, I would request youngsters to democratise the party, built it again and reach wider audiences of the Dalit Bahujan Samaj as Kansiram Saheb had done.
A majority of political leaders today have so many cases. Narendra Modi has been able to target his opponent for ‘bhai-batijawaad’ and dynasty. There is no doubt about the fact that political parties have become private limited companies and family outfits. The one man, who could have challenged Narendra Modi and was able to build a movement beyond his family and relations, was Kanshiram. His life was dedicated to the movement and till end his fulfilled that promise which none of his predecessors were able to do so which was absolute dedication to Ambedkarite mission and complete delinking of family from his political issues. If he had done so, he would also have faced barrage of questions from brahmanical media but they cant do so. He was able to build so many new leaders for the future but alas that does not seems to be the agenda of the current leadership. It is a wake up call. We might never have another Kansiram as it is not a simple thing to discard all the pleasures of life and families, but we can take lessons from his work and missionary life to build the future of our movement.