Kanshi Ram : The maker of Bahujan politic in reality for their rights and dignity
Kanshi Ram was one of the greatest political leaders in the 21st Century, he was born on 15th March 1934 in Ropar district of Panjab. his family was Ramdasia Sikhs. Ram graduated in 1956 with a BSc degree from Government College Ropar, then he joined service in Explosive Research and Development Laboratory in Pune. Where he experienced caste discrimination. One the result of the institutional discrimination, he became the leader for those was a victim of the caste discrimination.
Kanshi Ram has strong believed into political power, so he devoted his entire life to a mobilized dalit community for the taking that power. His vision of dalit was broad, one can see from his action through which, he tried to mobilize a larger community or spreading political education for empowerment. So he formed All India SC, ST, OBC, and Minority Employment Association am In 1978 this became BAMCEF, an organization that aimed to mobilized educated members of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backwards Class and Minorities to support the Ambedkarite principle. Later in 1981, he formed the Social organization called Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti and 1984 he founded the Bahujan Samah Party(BSP).
He was full time political activist for the cause of the Dalit community. He traveled extensively throughout the county and later concentrated his base in the one of the largest state of India, Uttar Pradesh. I have a chance to travel Uttar Pradesh, particularly in the eastern up, where Kanshi Ram has mobilized dalit community through political education, I had interacted many people between 2012 to 2014, and being a student of history, always tried to understand present in the reflection of the past. And tried to trace the route of the Kanshi Ram, whenever I found space and time during my engagement with the people. I can recall, our friend Pal, who was social activist in the Ambedkar Nagar district of eastern up, and was closely associated with Kanshi Ram during his visit in the region, he had shared with me, Kanshi Ram had strong personal connection with the people, during his travel for mobilization, he always travels by bicycle and along with his one pair of cloth and booklets/ Pamphlets, which he used to distribute to his comrades, to read and share with our people. Because, in those days, Kanshi Ram had not enough resource, his entire campaign was based on the people’s contributions.
When Mayawati entered in the fray with Kanshi Ram, they gained huge success for gaining power in the state, which was the main mantra of the Kanshi Ram politics, without gaining political power, the Bhahujan should not get their due. Of course, latter the politics of the BSP did not abide the philosophy of the Kanshi Ram’s vision or idea of the Bhahujan politics.
While I am writing, I have been thinking as far as politics of the Bhahujan are concerns, where are going now in 2021? The questions for the Bhahujan, which might have attracted Kanshi Ram to act nationally and specifically in the politics of UP. Where, the political space for Bhahujan, which was built by the Kanshi Ram, and subsequently taken over by the Mayawati. But, for my understanding Mayawati did not hold or connect with the larger Bhahujan community as Kanshi Ram had envisaged in his political philosophy. There are several causes for this, most important one, Mayawati’s style of politics is totally different from Kanshi Ram. She doesn’t have direct connection with people, as Kanshi Ram used to have with the organization as well as with his people. Mayawati still holds good numbers for vote share but did not sufficient for transforms in to seats in the Assembly or parliament. Somewhere, missed the larger idea of Kanshi Ram, which was simple to work for the larger Bahujan people.
There are many observations coming from the ongoing farmer’s movement, where the farmers are opposing the three acts, which is related to farms reforms as claimed by the government, but various farms groups opposing this acts, by saying farmers are not consulted in beforehand for formulating this so called reforms. As one of the prominent dalit thinker Chandra Bhan Prasad explained that, this farms movement is more than, what look like in the front, he further explained that, this is new kind of farmers uprising, in which more than farming communities are coming together, to fight their democratic rights, which are guaranties under the constitution of India, along with the famers groups, precisely he is indicating about the Bahujan groups, which is sympathizing this farmers protest, but Mayawati is no where to extend her support to the farmers movement.
Lately, there are new group emerged in the western UP, where first generation educated Dalit youth forms fluid group called Bhim Army, under the leadership of Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, claims they works for the emancipation of Dalits through education . They also run free schools for Dalits in the western Uttar Parades.
None of the political figure or group have any agenda on the ground to carry forward the legacy of Kanshi Ram’s mantra of the community mobilization (for the larger Bahujan people). There is long way to go for Bhim Army to stablished themselves as alternative in the politics of UP along with Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of Educate, Agitate and Organize. But, the teaching and footprints of the Kanshi Ram will be relevant forever in the Bhahujan political space for claiming their rights and dignity.