Greetings on the occasion of 123rd Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti –14th April, 2014.
Yes, we are back, after a gap of 5 months. On account of few technical reasons, we could not release Buddhist Voice since November 2013.
Its election time in India and the entire country is witnessing an election wave. The general elections in the country are being held in 10 phases. The country has voted in first five phases and remaining five phases are on the way. It appears that the entire print, electronic, social and visual media is promoting BJP, sorry, Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP. The world’s largest parliamentary democracy is in danger as the right wing wants to convert it into Presidential Form of Governance. It is, therefore, not shocking that Mr. Modi is being projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate and the votes are being asked on Mr. Modi’s name. There is no talk about party ideology. It is evident from BJP’s slogan “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar” that it is all about Modi and nothing else. The entire election campaign is focusing on one man and that is Modi. BJP’s campaign for election projecting Modi as Vikas Purush1 (Man of Development) is misleading. Most of the reports, even published by biased media, clearly shows that all the tall claims about the development of Gujarat are not correct when we check the factual position. Many other states are ahead in progress during last ten years as compared to Gujarat. Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots or failure to control the riots during his tenors as Chief Minister has always been looked with suspicion. During Modi’s interview with Mr. Karan Thaper3 for a TV Channel, he avoided all the questions related to Gujarat Riots. Therefore, in case Mr. Modi becomes Prime Minster of India, the minorities in India fear that India may not remain a true secular country during his tenor. If Modi voted to 2/3rd majority in this election, there might be considerable damage to the basic structure of the Parliamentary Democracy in India. No doubt, BJP or Mr. Modi will have to win at least 50% seats so that Mr. Modi can become the Prime Minister of India, else it will be difficult for BJP to garner any support for Mr. Modi as PM from NDA partners or even within BJP.
Falling Vote Share of the Ruling Parties and Coalition
It can be observed from the past elections that the winning party is slowly losing the actual vote base. It can be observed that, of late, the winning party is managing to get not more than 30% of the votes. In the 15th Lok Sabha, the average vote received by the MPs is about 25%. The 75% of the votes goes waste resulting in 75% of the voters remaining unrepresented in the Parliament. The following table gives statistics as how the winning party over the years is slowly losing their voter base.
|Lok Sabha||Year||No of Seats of LS||Single Largest Party||Winning Party
|1st Lok Sabha||1952||489||Congress||45.00%||364||74.44%|
|2nd Lok Sabha||1957||493||Congress||47.80%||371||75.25%|
|3rd Lok Sabha||1962||494||Congress||44.70%||361||73.08%|
|4th Lok Sabha||1967||520||Congress||40.80%||383||73.65%|
|5th Lok Sabha||1971||518||Congress||43.70%||352||67.95%|
|6th Lok Sabha||1977||542||Janata Party||41.30%||295||54.43%|
|7th Lok Sabha||1980||542||Congress||42.70%||353||65.13%|
|8th Lok Sabha||1984||542||Congress||49.10%||405||74.72%|
|9th Lok Sabha||1989||543||Congress||39.50%||197||36.28%|
|10th Lok Sabha||1991||543||Congress||36.50%||232||42.73%|
|11th Lok Sabha||1996||543||BJP||20.30%||161||29.65%|
|12th Lok Sabha||1998||543||BJP||25.60%||182||33.52%|
|13th Lok Sabha||1999||543||BJP||23.80%||182||33.52%|
|14th Lok Sabha||2004||543||Congress||26.50%||145||26.70%|
|15th Lok Sabha||2009||543||Congress||28.55%||206||37.94%
In India, it is governance by 25% vote based party. This situation is likely to continue due to emergence of regional parties and coalition politics.
Political Future of Ambedkarites
Let us talk about Ambedkarite leadership. Today, the fragmentation of Dalit parties is the biggest worry for the Ambedkarite people. After the Mahaparinirvana of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the newly formed Republican Party of India (RPI) was one of the significant opposition parties with good voter base during Nehru Government. However, over the period, the dominant caste people have managed to successfully divide the selfish and spineless Dalit leaders. Despite Dalits having sizable numbers as percentage of populations; Dalits parties are unable to win any seat on their own due to division in their votes. In case of Dalit dominated constituency, Congress, BJP / Shiv Sena are fielding Dalit Candidates who are not truly Ambedkarite and they are puppets in the hands of their respective party high command. Even the coalition partners are fully exploiting Dalit Parties without offering any benefit worth consideration. Divide and rule policy has been adopted by the parties mainly dominated by the Dominant castes towards the Dalits or Ambedkarite Parties.
Let us have look at the some of the prominent Dalit Leaders and Parties having some popularity.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Ms. Mayawati
Once BSP appeared to be a big force and most of the Ambedkarites felt that they have a strong leader like Manyawar Kanshiramji and Ms Mayawati who can lead the Ambedkarite Movement.
After the death of Mr. Kanshiram in October 2006, Ms. Mayawati joined the hands with dominant caste people in her experiment of social reengineering to take advantage of caste numbers. However, now it looks like she lost her grip over the party and she also lacks clear vision about the political future of BSP. Some of the prominent leaders of BSP appear to be unconcerned with the party cadres and give signals of defiance to the people. During her tenor as Chief Minister of the Uttar Pradesh, she certainly lost touch with her real vote bank. It is also reflected in the distribution of the seats during current election. Although most of the people from Uttar Pradesh do praise about the law & order and quality of governance during her tenor as Chief Minister, she created a wall of people from dominant caste between herself and the traditional voters of BSP. Due to political compulsion, her second and third line of leadership is yet to come up. Ms. Mayawati has joined hands with Congress due to many reasons best known to our readers.
Republican Party of India (A) led by Mr. Ramdas Athawale
Mr. Ramdas Athawale, in the past, has been with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) post Dalit Panther days. He was also minister with blessings of Congress and NCP. However, during the 2009 election, he lost due to reported conspiracy by NCP and Shiv Sena against him. Mr. Athawale, one of the leading activists during the Namantar Andolan (fight for renaming Marathwada University, Aurangabad after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar), has some base at grass root level and people still like him due to his helpful nature. No doubt that he is an excellent organiser. Although, he is actually an intelligent person, he always gives impression of being a funny character as a political gimmick.
During Dalit Panther days, he fought against the communal forces including Shiv Sena. It is well-known history that Shiv Sena was categorically against the renaming of the Marathwada University after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Ambedkarites from Maharashtra have suffered heavily due to Shiv Sena’s stand. One can dig into the history of Namantar Andolan to understand the damage done by Shiv Sena to Ambedkarites in Maharashtra. In fact, the entire generation was engaged in the Namantar Andolan and no doubt it was a conspiracy of the Political Parties and Dominant caste people to keep Ambedkarites engaged on issues which will divert their attention from real economical progress to emotional issues. However, Mr. Ramdas Athawale joining hands with ideologically opposite party like Shiv Sena is beyond imagination of most of the Ambedkarites. Although he has been given the Rajya Sabha berth by Shiv Sena and BJP alliances, it looks like that is all RPI (A) got in return of becoming a part of NDA. Although, Mr Athawale is now MP with Rajya Sabha for one term, the dominant caste people have managed to finish or dwarf the political career of Mr. Ramdas Athawale.
Dr. Anand Teltumbde, in his latest column in Economic & Political weekly said that “At one level, seeing the lows to which Indian Democracy has stooped, such opportunist acrobatics of Dalit leaders would not surprise anyone. After all, everyone has been doing it. Why then grudge if Dalit Leaders do the same? After all, many of them have so far been in Congress; what if now they go over to BJP? Indeed, while there may be little difference between BJP and the Congress, the reason for the alarm stems from what they have professed so far, and consequently, the public perception about them. Unlike Congress, BJP is an ideology-driven party. Its ideological core of Hindutva, shorn of the verbiage surrounding it, is the ideology fascism, which can be clearly seen as antithetical to what Ambedkar stood for. Although expediency demands their allegiance to the Indian constitution, or wooing Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims, their ideological attitude is against them. One is therefore deeply pained by the abominable demeanour of the Dalit Leaders in betraying Ambedkar while singing paeans to him.”
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh led by Adv. Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar
Adv. Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr. Ambedkar, is another significant leader. He is one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent leader amongst all Dalit leaders in Maharashtra. He has successfully managed to win the elections at Municipal Nigam in Akola. Now he is contesting from the same constituency for Lok Sabha election. The party fights for the rights of the Dalit bahujan community. There are great chances that he will win from Akola (Maharashtra) for Lok Sabha. However, due to his interpersonal skills and behaviour pattern with the Ambedkarites, there are many people who do not like to join hands with Adv. Prakash Ambedkar and therefore he lacks the mass base support despite his status as grandson of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. In fact, Adv. Ambedkar with little bit efforts in his PR can become an absolute leader of Dalits and he can change the whole scenario of Dalit leadership, if not in India, atleast in Maharashtra within a short span.
Till date he is the one who appears to be honest in his intentions for fighting for the rights of Dalits. If he is prepared to assume the leadership with right spirit, right attitude towards people and right concern, there is no doubt that the all the Ambedkarites will stand behind him.
Other significant leaders like Prof. Jogeendra Kawade, Mr. R S Gawai, Dr Rajendra Gawai etc. appear to have lost their fighting spirit and they have joined hands with Congress without much benefit to the community.
Mr. Sunil Khobragade is one of the upcoming Ambedkarite leaders who has high potential and can lead the Dalits in Maharashtra State in future but he is yet to establish himself as leader of the masses. He may take some more time to become a significant name in Dalit politics.
We should not forget that in the past when all dalit parties came together, they could get three MPs elected from Maharashtra. If all the Ambedkarite parties decide to be together and form their own coalition, a remarkable success can be achieved. Now the question is whether BSP, RPI (all faction) and other Dalit parties will ever join hands and fight together in at least next elections?
- http://www.hindustantimes.com/elections2014/election2014-placeholder/modi-is-misleading-people-about-gujarat-s-growth -story-sharad-pawar/article1-1203955.aspx
- http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-06-17/ news/32281935_1_shankarsinh-vaghela-modi-government-misleading-people
- Crisis Of Ambedkarites And Future Challenges by Dr Anand Teltumbde found at http://www.countercurrents.org/teltumbde220411.htm Winning Percentages : http://www.smetimes.in/smetimes/general-elections-2009/miscellaneous/2009/Mar/23/history-of-lok-sabha-elections5584.html#
- Indian Democracy : https://www.asian-studies.org/eaa/Oldenburg-12-3.pdf
- Election Statistics http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/statistical_report.aspx
- Three Dalit Rams Play Hanuman to BJP by Dr Anand Teltumbde, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLIX NO. 15, 12th April, 2014