Adv. Ram Khobragade
Published in Issue III, September 2013
Political power in this country has been the exclusive preserve of the Brahmins and Bada Jamidars (Feudal lords) for centuries. The Shudras and Ati-Shudras have always been deprived of not only political power but even economic and cultural power. ‘Religion, social status and property are all sources of power and authority, which man has, to control the liberty of others’. The Shudras – the Untouchables, had none – neither power nor authority. They had also no access to education. Similarly Indian women had also been deprived of all that, which the Shudras & Ati-Shudras had not. In addition to that under the Orthodox Hindu Social Order, Hindu women have undergone a very very severe, torturous and heinous life for centries. Even today they do not have equal rights at par with men in the ancestral properties. The Hindu society which never cared for their feelings and sentiments for so long, today suddenly became aware of their political rights. Why?
Struggle for power in this country is not new, and not very different, though apparently it seems that nothing like that exists in practice. But reality is reality. The struggle for control of power is going on for the last many centuries. Sometime, it was between Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Sometime between Kshatriyas and Vaishyas and sometime between Brahmins and Vaishyas. But Shudras and Ati-Shudras – the untouchables, have always been the victims of the system. Whosoever might be wielding power, Shudras and Ati-Shudras or today the Bahujans, always remained target of exploitation. Deprived, disgusted, dejected and demoralised they could never assert and organise themselves. Reasons – the Varnashram social system created by Manusmriti. Consequently, they too like Hindu women, had to undergo inhuman treatment and humiliation.
It was Lord Buddha and then Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Father of India’s Social Revolution, who not only single-handedly fought against the social and religious exploitation of the Bahujans and Hindu women but he inspired, encouraged and made these Bahujans to live the life of honour and dignity. It was his initiative that opened the doors of knowledge-education, both for the untouchables & Hindu women. He revolted against the tyranny of Hinduism and then started to organise the Shudras and Ati-Shudras against the oppression and exploitation by the Shetjis & Bhatjis (Banias & Brahmins). Dr. Ambedkar carried forward the legacy of Jyotiba Phule to the rightful destination and due to his systematic and disciplined organisational and intellectual leadership Dalit Shoshit Samaj came to realise its existence in the socio-political systems of the country. The Orthodox Hindu Social Order did not recognise equal need, equal work or equal ability on the basis of their performance. Its motto was that in regard to the distribution of necessities of life, those are regarded at the top must get the most and the best and those who are classed at the lowest must accept the least and the worst.
Struggle for power and supremacy of a particular Caste or Class is not new. The Puranic Story of Dev & Danav (God and Rakshas), though symbolic, indicates the power game going on in this country for long. To support and strengthen their own grip and control over the power, the Brahminical theorists propounded various views. Manusmriti was created for that very purpose – to establish the supremacy of Brahmins and two other Varnas viz. Kshatriyas & Vaishyas. Shudras were destined to be ruled only. But to their great dismay and disappointment Dr. Ambedkar exposed their real face and prepared his own people to assert their rights. The Communal Award of 1932 was the most historical political achievement of Dr. Ambedkar unparalled in the history of political science. He got double voting right for the untouchables, one of the most powerful political weapons for them. Unfortunately Mahatma Gandhi cunningly created the most heinous scene resorting to fast-unto-death technique to stall the onward march of the Dalits, which, they could have secured for them had the so-called Mahatma not played the cunning tricks. He had no objection to Muslims separate electorates, but opposed the same for Depressed Classes tooth & nail. In fact, being the staunchest supporter of Chaturvarna Social System, his conscious over powered his face value and thus he became the most valiant villain in the history of Dalit upliftment in India. Despite that the Dalit Shoshit Samaj, slowly and systematically under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar could get political rights and assert their existence. But the Poona Pact, which Mahatma imposed upon Dr. Ambedkar through unethical political manoeuvring deprived them what Dr. Ambedkar secured intellectually and scholarly for his people. In the words of Dr. Ambedkar, ‘Poona Pact is thus fraught with mischief ………. To end this long and sad story the Congress sucked the juice out of the Poona Pact and threw the rind in the face of the Untouchables.’
Social awakening, political consciousness and economic well-being tremendously changed the outlook and perspective of the Dalit Shoshit Samaj. All these factors greatly contributed to affect the electoral process of the country. The results of 1967 elections were indicative of these factors. Naturally, those who were on the verge of losing their control of political power, had to find out various other alternatives to regain and retain the political power – The Master key, with which one can open each and every lock.’ The struggle for master-key is the story of all agitations, demonstrations, protestations and manipulations, which we see today.
The results of 1967 and 1977 general elections were the turning point in the history of Parliamentary Democracy in India. While, once those results strengthened the concept of maturity of Indian electorate in democratic set-up, on the other hand, it also made power-managers to find out the ways and means to put an end to increasing assertive tendency among those who voted against the combination of C-C (Communalists and Capitalists). Monopoly of Brahmins / Banias / Communalists & Capitalists was first challenged in 1967 in North India and thereafter the trend and tendency continued to influence and affect adversely the fortune of the so-called communalists and capitalists. With the passing of every election, notable and visible change took place in the voting pattern of Dalit – Shoshit Samaj-Bahujan Samaj – the oppressed and exploited people. To checkmate the emerging strong and illogically alike Bahujan Samaj, the communalists, the capitalists and the feudal lords designed, developed and experimented with many alternatives. BJP and RSS along with some stalwarts of Congress, like Late Vasant Sathe, and N. A. Palkhiwala, noted jurist, advocated presidential form of Govt. Women’s Reservation Bill is also one of their designs.
Parliamentary Democracy & Power Game
Under the Parliamentary form of govt. even the smallest group of elected members in the lower House can play a very important and crucial role in the formation of government and dislodge even the largest political party. This happened in our political system at national level as well as state level nos. of times during the last 35 years. Even today we witness as to how the otherwise mighty Congress appears to be begging for the support of SP and BSP to sail through the continuous threats to their government at the centre. In 1979, Chaudhary Charan Singh could become Prime Minister of India. Similarly, V.P. Singh, H. D. Deve Gowda also became Prime Ministers, though their political parties had no majority in the House. Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav could also manage to become the Chief Ministers some time though they had no majority. This emerging trend in the political process appeared to be dangerous warning to the communalists and capitalists, that no more, hereafter, they could manipulate. The elevation of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad was not to their choice or like. Emergence of Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in their respective states was final death-warning for Brahminical forces. The U.P.example of SP-BSP alliance in 1993 is the classical example as to how the parliamentary form of system could change the face of Indian politics. The Assembly elections of 1993, 1996, Lok Sabha elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999 are the indications of increasing vote bank of Dalit – Shoshit Samaj—Bahujan Samaj. Unfortunately this very same experiment could not be repeated either in U.P. or elsewhere for short- sightedness of Mulayam Singh and Kanshi Ram. Both of them played in the hands of Bramhnical designs of RSS and BJP. A.B. Vajpayee, then leader of opposition, explained this in Rajat Sharma’s Apki Adalat show. The results of UP and Bihar are indication of the political trends likely to emerge in the coming elections all over India. The communalists and capitalists feel this might upset their power equations to exclusively control the Centre and majority of the States. Their commitment to Hindu Rashtra might not also be feasible given the present political equation. They are fully confident that replacement of present constitution or changing the Parliamentary Form of Executive to Presidential Executive is not easy in’the context of the Keshvanand Bharti Judgement. For that they were and also they are in search of alternatives to their exclusive advantage. Women’s Reservation Bill is one of their alternatives.
Conspiracy against the Bahuians
The communalists and capitalists, through LPG-Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation, have already started to ‘desfranchise the vast majority of the oppressed and exploited people – the Bahujan Samaj and deprived them of their economic and educational facilities’ and now through Women’s Reservation Bill their political existence has also been endangered. Mahatma Gandhi did not like a Dalit to become a Minister in Dr. Khare’s ministry in Central Provinces in 1938, Indira Gandhi refused to make any Scheduled Caste Chief Minister and Dr. Ambedkar could not find suitable place in Pandit Nehru’s Cabinet despite his being the most talented, intellectual, learned, mass-leader of great calibre.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is going to help the capitalists and communalists only. It is not going to benefit in any way the Bahujan Samaj. On the contrary, this is a deliberate attempt or we can say conspiracy to check-mate the emerging assertive trends in the Bahujan Samaj so that they could be defeated with more female members on the floor of the House.
It seems very funny that so far, since 1996, when the first attempt was made to introduce the Bill in the Lok Sabha, these very same parties which advocated the cause of women reservation did not allot even 10% tickets or party positions to their women activists in their own political parties, but they want Women Reservation Bill to be passed. Had they real intention to increase the representation of women in the Parliament and Assemblies they could have started from their own parties. But their honesty is doubtful. Talveen Singh in ‘India Today’ very rightly and logically observed that, ‘If our political parties are serious about giving women their rightful place in politics, then surely, we should first have a bill that forces them to distribute 33% of their election tickets to women…..’ In the present set-up, there is no bar for political parties to allot more than 50% tickets to women candidates and as such there is no need for Women’s Reservation Bill. Though it seems that reservation for women in Gram Panchayat, Zilla Panchayat, Municipal Councils, Municipal Corporations is the great success, reality is that the husbands, fathers and in-laws and brothers are managing the shows. They are name-sake there, real power is with their mentors. The existing system is the best one and should continue. Under the existing system Indira Gandhi could become Prime Minister and Sushma Swaraj leader of opposition in Lok Sabha. Others like Jayalalitha, Mayawati and Sheila Dixit could also become Chief Ministers.
After Buddha and Mahatma Jyotiba Fule – Savitribai, it was Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, messiah of millions of the oppressed and exploited people of this land and first law minister in the Nehru Cabinet, took up Women’s issues for their liberation from the age-old slavery of orthodox Hinduism, under which they were groaning for centuries. Dr. Ambedkar, through the Hindu Code Bill, initiated to liberate Indian Hindu women from the clutches of unjust, discriminatory and totally biased laws of Hindu scriptures.
Basically, the main objective of the Hindu Code Bill was not only to codify the rules of Hindu Law, but to liberate the Hindu women from the slavery of customs, traditions and raise the status of women equal to that of men. However, the leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukharjee, the strongest protagonist of orthodox Hindu Social Order and founder of BJS and ideal of BJP (the party which now very strongly speak about Women’s Reservation Bill) then opposed the Bill. He said, “Hindu Code Bill would shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture and stultify a dynamic and catholic way of life that had wonderfully adopted itself to changes for centuries.” Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya also strongly opposed the Bill in the words that, ‘very fibre of the Hindu society would be weakened’. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, played the role of hard-core Orthodox Hindu opposition to the Bill. And finally Pandit Nehru the, so-called socialist, surrendered before the orthodox Hindus and Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet on this very issue of Women’s liberation from orthodox Hinduism. Dr. Ambedkar did his best to liberate Hindu Women from the slavery of Orthodox Hinduism and its tyranny till the last. Hindu women of this country should never forget Dr. Ambedkar for their today’s position in the society.
Adv. Ram Khobragade : Former Editor-in-Chief of Hindi Magazine, “Jan Andolan Ka Sajag Prahari”, Published from New Delhi. The author’s book by the same title was published in 2002.