Sena embraces RPI in M'rashtra

A political montage that cropped up early this week with the announcement of teaming up of the two bitter rivals and arch enemies - Republican Party of India (Athavale-faction) and Shiv Sena has shaken up even the chronically bored political analysts into trying to find the picture in the fabric with contrasting colours.

Of course the process for trying to lure gasping-for-oxygen dalit leader Ramdas Athavale had started early in January with meetings with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari,  it was still construed as a tacit political message to Nationalist Congress Party.

Nobody was taking it seriously since dalits and Shiv Sena had not only violently clashed several times in past but more importantly is the fact that SS had always supported the BJP brand Hindutva espousing even though tacitly the caste hierarchy.

Moreover, SS very late in its political career graph came out in support of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s contribution to country and its people.

Political survival

And with regard to BJP, the dalit groups had never liked the kind of Hindu supremacist ideology it had been marketing for its political survival.

But the lure, to continue lording over the country’s richest municipal corporation having an annual budget bigger than Kerala state budget, it seems proved strong enough for the foes harbouring vicious antipathy towards each to come together.

At least on the surface the desperation of SS which has developed a full-blown paranoia towards the fast snow-balling influence in the state of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the addiction to control the gold-edged Mumbai civic body seems to fit the political logic. Thus the pun –ATM (Athavale, Thackeray and Munde) wanting to use BMC as (Any Time Money.)

But then it is not just the lure of the gilded skein of BMC; a deeper social stresses and strains seems to at work wherein a move is being made to absorb the scheduled caste independent mobility into upper caste based parties.

Dalit politics in recent times has emerged as a powerful political force independent of the mainstream political parties.  The pivotal role dalit factor played in Uttar Pradesh in pole-vaulting Mayawati to the throne is a case in point.

Even though Maharashtra per se has not seen the kind of mobilisation and grouping of dalits like in Uttar Pradesh, dalit politics has always played a pivotal role in helping Congress or NCP in the power game.

Modicum progress

But more important is the fact that at the social level, the emergence of dalits even though still a modicum progress, has made the upper class and caste realise the latent potentiality of this group.

The down-trodden communities though themselves ridden by factions, internal caste hierarchies, various political and religious beliefs, has one common thread that binds them irrespective of their differences and i.e., dalit.

In Maharashtra when Ambedkar went for conversion to Buddhism, it was the Mahar community that took it up enthusiastically while several other groups like Chamar and Matang remained in the Hindu fold while continuing to profess reverence to father of Indian Constitution.

Even during the riots that took place on the renaming of Marathwada University, it was the Mahar community that played a prominent role in the agitation.

However, analysis of a deeper underlying social process indicates that the move to absorb somehow is not just a thin coat of paint white-washing a dirty wall; it is a move to annul the identity of the dalit politics per se.

With BJP and SS planning a manifesto with explicit support to the RSS Hindutva brand, the acceptance of such an ideology then marks the beginning of the end of dalit identity and its politics.

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