By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
BSP's founder President Mr Kanshi Ram died last night out of a heart attack. He was 72. Kanshi Ram's death had been ailing for the past two years and was confined to bed at BSP president Mayawati's house.
If India's politics has grown through a radical change with Dalit becoming the mainstream political force, the one man who made is possible was Kanshi Ram. He worked diligently and religiously to develop a cadre who could bring the party to National mainstream and ultimately to the power in Uttar-Pradesh. In the Indian political scenario, the gap left by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar was difficult to fill. Ambedkar was a giant, a man of great character and
Whatever may be his draw backs, Kanshiram revived the strong Ambedkarite sense of dignity, self respect in the masses who had once upon a time became vote bank of the upper caste leadership of different political parties. Kanshiram changed the perception. " Jiski jitni Sankhya Bhari, uski utni bhagidari' and with the concept of Bahujan Samaj, Kanshiram went beyond Ambedkar in political stretagy. He was not confined to Dalits but spread to most backward communities as well as Muslims in India. For the first time, we saw a rainbow coalition of the Bahujan Samaj emerging in the north that shook the power structure.
His was a sharp mind. In the initial phase he knew it well that people would always question him as what was the mass base of the party. Yet, BSP would contest all the seats. He remarked once : We may not win all the seats but we are in a position to change the equations and responsible for some one else's defeat'. That stretagy resulted in Congress Party grounded in different elections in Uttar-Pradesh. No talk of developmental drama would take away people from Kanshiram. The parties like BJP would talk of ultra nationalism and Hindutva while Congress talked about secularism but were ultimately decimated in Uttar-Pradesh. Dalit-bahujans of Uttar-Pradesh remained loyal to him. In Kanshiram's UP, Dalit representation became the main issue. It was the struggle between the Manuwadi parties and Dalit representative parties. Ultimately people chose BSP. Today, BSP is growing stronger and stronger in the state and all set to stage a come back. Kanshraim would have been happy to see return of his party. Alas he is no more.
Kanshiram's death is a big blow to the Dalit movement. He was icon whom the Dalits of the country looked for guidance. He was down to earth and lived for the society. He kept his words. He life was an example for many other political leaders who amassed huge wealth and are involved in family business and red tapism. Family for Kanshiram was the Dalit samaj. Though in his last days, the issue of his health and confinement was challenge by his family yet one should know that Kanshiram virtually was a man for his society. He rarely talked about his family. Such example are very rare in Indian politics.