The misuse of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act-1989 has been talked about ever since this law came into existence. This is when, on average, about forty thousand anti-Dalit harassment cases are filed every year even after thirty years of the enactment of this law.
But now the Supreme Court, through one of its orders, has brought some important changes in it, making this law relatively weak. The bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit have given this decision citing misuse of this law.
Ever since this decision has come, it is being fiercely opposed by many political parties, including the main opposition party Congress. Among NDA colleagues Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale have also questioned this decision. But surprisingly, so far the government has not made any official comment on it. Yes, some BJP MPs like Thawarchand Gehlot have definitely demanded the government to intervene.
This decision raises a political question to what extent the BJP’s strategy of taking the Dalits along with it may affect it, especially when it is barely a year away in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
How this decision will bring color in the context of BJP’s relationship with Dalit politics may be a matter of speculation, but the assessment of how and how Dalits have been able to fit into the BJP’s concept of ‘a Hindu identity’ is clear. Can be done as a matter of fact.
Dalit and BJP
Theoretically, as much as Dalit interests are seen against the Hinduist politics of the BJP, there is not much distance in the practical level in Dalit politics and BJP.
This thing must be lost in the minds of the agitators who talk of Dalit-Muslim unity. If it does not come, then it is clearly dishonest with the movement at the level of ideology and without it, only the electoral profit-loss movement will be able to stand in place of the broader political-social movement.
During the tenure of Modi government, the mob lynching of Muslims and organized violence with Dalits started simultaneously. In Una, Gujarat, Dalit youths who stripped the cow were brutally killed. There was strong opposition from the Dalits also. After this the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh had to go on the backfoot.
According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, there has been a 66% increase in cases of Dalit oppression in the last 10 years and from 2014 to 2016, the states where the highest number of cases of Dalit oppression have been reported are either BJP or its allies. She is Despite this, a large proportion of Dalits remained with the BJP.
The mobilization of non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits brought the BJP’s Yogi government to power in Uttar Pradesh. Dalit politics is aggressive against Hinduist politics on the one hand, and on the other hand Hinduist politics has also remained to an extent.
Can it be just a coincidence that Dalit leaders like Mayawati, Ramdas Athawale, Ram Vilas Paswan and Udit Raj manage to harmonize with BJP politics so periodically. Mayawati became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh thrice with the help of BJP.
If the new young face of Dalit politics leaves Jignesh Mevani, there is no big face of Dalit politics who has not aligned with the BJP in some way or the other.
If the BJP is able to connect the Dalits with them even while practicing Hindutva politics then why and how? To an extent it seems to be a strategic success of the BJP but it also has some theoretical and historical aspects.
The ideological basis of Dalit politics is linked to Ambedkarism. Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar has said a lot about criticizing Hinduism and Hindu nation, but his views on the BJP’s mother organization Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) are not so clear.
On the contrary, they oppose Congress more vocally. Perhaps the reason for this was that the Congress was a big force at that time and the big mobilization of Brahminists was within it.
At that time, the RSS was engaged in searching its strong ground. For the past few years, RSS people have used a quote written by Ambedkar in 1939 to make their inroads among Dalits.
Quoting this quote, the Sangh people claim that when Ambedkar first arrived at a Sangh’s teaching camp in Pune, he was surprised and praised for not seeing caste differences there. However, it is also interesting to know that they do not cite any reference article or scripture to confirm this.
But it is a historical fact that Ambedkar, as Law Minister, opposed the support of the Uniform Civil Code and the imposition of Section 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The Sangh’s stand on both these issues is also the same.
Ambedkar’s views on Muslims and Pakistan are clearly seen in two books, Thoughts on Pakistan (1941) and Pakistan and Partition of India (1945). In this, they make the same comments about Muslim society as they do when talking about Hinduism.
This may have been the reason that eventually he took the initiation of Buddhism instead of adopting Islam. One thing is clear from the extent to which the BJP has been successful in Hinduizing Dalits that Dalits are going to pay a great price for their Hindu identity.