Without Radical Land Reform there will never have Gram Swaraj but Manuraj

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

In the United States they are challenging it. President Trump is facing inquiry and media is asking tough question often compelling trump to tweet against them but in India media has become the political mouth-organ of the ruling party. The unconstitutional way which the governor got Devendra Fednavis and Ajeet Pawar sworn in, was a blatant violation of all the norms and ethics. We saw it during Indira Gandhi’s period when likes of Ram Lal dismissed a duly elected government in Andhra Pradesh resulting in massive protest against Mrs Gandhi.

Times have changed. Mrs Gandhi might not have known that our Manuwadi media need money to keep its mouth shut and make the opposition the real villain. Where the government and its stars are caught red handed doing unconstitutional things, media and its brahmanical anchors are discussing ‘chankyaniti’ and who upped the ante. Many people blame the opposition for delaying things. Now the question is when there is a governor rule, isnt it good for all the opposition to discussion threadbare their issues and then come to a Common Minimum Programme. There is nothing wrong in it.

The Supreme Court sat on sunday which is a holiday. We know that the Courts are not going to give judgement that fast as we expect. I have said many times that the courts are influenced by the popular political culture of the day. They are being influenced. Otherwise, President Kovind signing a document on dotted lines is a reminder that Fakhroh Din Ali Ahmed, the infamous President of emergency era is not ‘dead’ and is still a role model.

I have always mentioned and many time that the role model of the current regime is Sanjay Gandhi who dealt with the opposition through his young groups who were mostly the new lumpen element of the Congress Party. Indira Gandhi could do nothing to stop him. The only problem is that Indira was secular to the core though during her stint after emergency. The biggest blunder Mrs Gandhi did was to undo the historical legacy of her legendary father Jawahar Lal Nehru who is undoubtedly one of the prime builders of modern India along with Baba Saheb Ambedkar, an India which had institutions and a secular socialist constitution.

In democracy, it is not merely the political parties who are essential. Equally essential is an absolutely independent media, judiciary which can defend the rights of the people and can tell the powers of the day that they are wrong if they violate the law. That apart, we need strong social movements and civil society to remind our political class not to compromise with the welfare of the people. When political parties fails raising people’s agenda and when our MPs represent themselves and their own welfare, it is essential that there be a moral force to guide us. Periyar understood it in Tamilnadu that the political class will always compromise and that is why he warned and asked them not to take political positions. Gandhi knew it well and he nurtured a young leaders in the organisation and made social work an essential part of the organisational culture of the Congress Party. Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s call to Buddhism was nothing but this important aspect that unless we challenge the hegemonic cultural narratives of brahmanism, we would not succeed. It was not important to challenge them but provide alternative which he gave in the form of Buddha’s ideas of enlightenment and wished India become a ‘Prabuddha Bharat’ one day, an India of enlightened people, who can share and feel pain, agony and joy of all its citizens irrespective of their faiths.

I have no wish against political class but I know intodays time our democracy is nothing but corporatocracy and political class has been unable to challenge the impact and influence of the corporate in our political life. I dont blame the right wing for this as they were always fascinated by American interests even in those years when Soviet Union was defending us at all level right from supporting military hardware to vetoing things at the United Nations. Our issues are with other political parties who claim to be socialist and secular that they are unable to challenge the corporate influence in our polity.

The biggest failure of our political class was their inability to support people on important issues. The Narmada Bachao Andolan started by Medha Patakar was unable to find support from political class even when Adivasis and Dalits faced eviction and destruction of their home land. Over 10 millions Adivasis families became victim of our developmental model since 1950 and political parties kept quiet. They remain conspicuously silent when government after government failed to protect the rights of the Dallits over their land, a promise that we made in our constitution. Our Gandhian friend often talk about Gram Swaraj and I remind them of the fears of Baba Saheb Ambedkar that the Panchayat will always be a panchayat of the dominant. Have we addressed those issues. Have our villages really democratised ? We the romantics of the village life must look at it from the angles of those who dont have any ‘customary’ right to own property or even enter the ‘common’ property. We glamorise them. Ofcourse, those who got it, will defend it but what about those who dont have anything. Shouldnt our movement talk about those who were historically, divinely denied right to own property and education.

Friends call that all should unite. Ambedkarite, Gandhians, communists, peasants, in their fight against Fascism but the question what is our understanding of it. Should we think that it has come to India from Germany or the other way round that we exported it to Germany. As M N Roy wrote in his phenomenal analysis of Fascism, that Indian fascism will be nothing but cultural. Today, we are witnessing it. He had the courage to say that the culture of cult and messiahism around Gandhi itself is a threat and can take us to fascist tendencies. I only want to suggest that while we must take lessons from our leaders and philosophers, we must also not make them unquestionable and superheroes who cant do anything wrong or who knew everything.

It is time, we discuss issues and build up collective narrative. Challenge the brahmanical narratives which degrade India’s Bahujan masses. It will obliterate them from history books and folk lores. We must not live in the past as we can only leaarn lessons from it and prepare ourselves for future. Gandhi despite all his shortcoming has a great power of organising people and bringing different and diverse group in the organisational structure. People like me never agree to many of his work and practices, his ‘spiritualism’ but if he should be known, I would say, he must be known from the group of leaders he nurtured and encouraged. We must have the capacity to listen to dissent and not to start questioning and telling us things like Ambedkar never went to Jail as an ‘old veteran’ told me when I questioned Gandhi’s socialism at Birla House. I only said that I never believed Gandhi was socialist and this was countered by the person countering Ambedkar. I told him Ambedkar was fighting for the freedom of India’s Bahujan Samaj from the clutches of brahmanism and not merely British.

Common struggle is important but also essential as how will it happen. Without democratisation, our villages are not going to change and hence need for radical land reforms, seek strict land ceiling laws even if it attract on big temples, big ashrams whoever it has. I know, this make many of our friend uncomfortable as they too have enjoyed the fruits of living in these hugely built unmanageable ‘ashrams’ with hundreds of acres of land lying unused and waste. Why not give it to the people, even on lease.

The issue of common struggle can not happen with patronising attitude. Accept that there are Adivasis struggles, Dalit struggles, that of the pastoralists, backward communities and allow them in these spaces without ‘guiding’ them in your ‘vegetarian’ principles. I have issues with vegetarianism as an imposed value on people. I can understand economy but at many places of ‘great people’ vegitarianism is a precondition to live in their ashrams which is basically denial of right to food practices or culturally accepted food to them.

Fight to protect our land is the most important task and we stand with all the friends including Naramada Bachao Andolan for its historical work to stand with the land and water rights of the Dalit Adivasi communities in the Narmada valley but we would like to re-emphasise that land redistribution or equal distribution of our wealth and land, access to natural resources is an unfinished agenda of our constitution and we must not leave it. With out radical land reforms our villages will be in the strong grip of Manuwad and there will not be a Gram Swaraj but Manuraj in our villages hence it is essential that both these agendas go hand in hand so that the Dalit Adivasi backward communities can be partner in their common struggle to get justice.