The sudden outrage of various Dalit outfits on the alleged perception of dilution of a central act which offers stringent provisions in the case of atrocity on schedule casts and schedule tribes in India has stunned most of the people in country.
On 2nd of April when various Dalit outfits called for closing down the country in their protest of their alleged perception of dilution of SC\ST Atrocity act, the casual response from several state governments and central government in their anticipation of mass mobilization on the call of Dalit outfits and preparing themselves to maintain law &order was enough to prove that Dalit Movement as mass movement has never been taken so seriously as a threat to pose a serious challenge with huge implications of political shift in country. Most of the political parties and governments were taken aback to watch out the capacity of Dalit outfits to mobilize people in huge numbers in such a short notice.
The central government tried to be seen quickly in its efforts to placate the rage of Dalit sentiments with filing a review petition in apex court to register its disagreement from court’s point of view. But it was too late for central government to come in action not because they were late in filing the review petition but they were lazy in reaching out to the real cause of rage and anxiety among Dalits in Country.
Since the 2nd April when Dalit outfits have been successful in making their point with their show of strength the analysis on significance of Dalit movement had begun.
The politics is all about perception and perception on certain individuals or ideological groups is being created among the people after sustained efforts and string of acts of these individuals and ideological groups. This perception for any individual and ideological groups does not create in one day and the perception can’t be erased in one stroke with one action.
How political parties gain from their perceptions among people and lose sometimes too we have witnessed it more than often. As per example the perception of being hard on nationalism and issues related to terrorism or their proximity with Cultural and Hinduness of politics has benefitted Bhartiya Janta Party even they have been criticized for being part of a coalition in Jammu &Kashmir with a political party which is diametrically opposite to their ideology. Most of the people in country don’t take criticism of Congress party for Bhartiya Janta party on these issues so seriously to change their perception for them as in their minds BJP has got a perception of hard on this issue and they can feel disappointed sometimes for BJP but their perception can’t be erased from their minds .
But the same issue of perception is not benefiting BJP when it comes to Dalit angle. Since BJP stormed to power in 2014 with a huge majority in lower house its leader and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi left no stone unturned to appropriate the legacy of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar who was part of the architecture team of Indian constitution and he successfully included several provisions in constitution to uplift the Dalits ( who are being considered as marginalized section in Indian society for a long time due to strict social and religious order) . The appropriation of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar from Narendra Modi has deeper significance as well implications in Indian politics. It was significant because Narendra Modi comes from a political party and ideological background which was considered and criticized for holding the legacy of Brahminical order of society with a vision to bring back the glory of past with Brahminical supremacy, the implication of his appropriation of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was the more assertion and resurgence of Dalit movement with demand of more political participation from Dalits.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked a long path with Dr Ambedkar to cut the legacy of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru to size and promote him as an alternative political vision.
But in last four years Dalit movement realized that their icons been highlighted but their issues and grievances are not addressed in that proportion. The real theme and goal of Dalit movement is not to provide the stature of deity to Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar but to overturn the whole structure of Hindu society from vertical to horizontal where possibility of return of Brahminical orders is being made impossible.
Narendra Modi entangled and dragged himself in age old unsettled issues with long history of strife and struggle on these issues with far from the territory of politics and it needs more deliberations and skirmishes within society and religion before it settled out.
The appropriation of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar from Narendra Modi and his ideological fraternity exposed their vulnerability before Dalit movement who smell an opportunity to open the age old issues of revolutionary changes in society from the political platform as they got an opportunity to expose the difference between appropriating Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar as a leader and appropriating the legacy of his ideology.
Since 1757 when Clive won the placy war and East India Company established its empire in India the Hindu world view of India was seriously challenged with new western world view heavily loaded with its umbilical relations to Christianity and in more than two centuries the real struggle in India had been between powers to bring India more closer with western world view on one side and to find a way to make a balance between Indian world view which is made of composite culture of India with bigger share of Hindu world view.
Dalit movement find them more near to the western world view and Christian missionaries who had a long history to support their efforts to overturn the Brahminical order from vertical to horizontal . Although Dalit leaders like Babu JagjiwanRam and Kanshi Ram had transformed Dalit movement to provide it more Indianised view for Dalits to incline more to indigenous way of finding the way out for social justice as Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar categorically stated that Hindu religion and its cast structure is in itself is a problem and discriminatory due to its religious and scriptural sanction and Dalits can’t expect any dignity or justice for them within Hindu religion as caste structure would not allow them any space or dignity , so better they should think of liberating them from oppression and tyranny of Hindu religion and he opted for Buddhism in later part of his life but Babu Jagjiwan Ram and KanshiRam did not opt to shed the Hinduism rather they decided to fight for their cause and used caste as their political capital to bring social reform from political revolution as they thought that once Dalits would gain more political power and become part of establishment , the upper cast Hindus would provide more space and dignity to Dalits to compromise with them to enjoy the political power.
In coming days the more resurgent and assertive Dalit Movement will try to dictate the terms and several issues with social implications will be raised from political platform and vulnerable Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his political constraints would find him in difficult situation to handle this issue as general elections are due to next year and due to Dalit resurgence the political narrative in election year would definitely take a shift.