Sunday, February 26, 2017
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Three years back, a friend informed me that former Samajwadi Party star campaigner Phoolan Devi’s family is in dire need. Her younger sister Ramkali and her mother were compelled to work under MNREGA. I decided to go to Phoolan’s ancestral village Shekhupura near Kalpi, in Kanpur Dehat to meet Ramkali and her mother. When I reached there, Ramkali was in a bad shape, coughing with some fever. Her mother had gone to stay with her brother in Gwalior so Ramkali was alone that time. She narrated her story which could bring tears in any one’s eyes of how politicians just get away from you once their work is finished. She requested to Mulayam Singh Yadav, who she said, was like her father, to help her family as promised. In fact, when I uploaded the video and as well as my article on Behmai and Phoolan Devi went to many friends inside the Samajwadi Party. I thought they might have taken some action but nothing happened.
I decided to be in Phoolan’s village again to speak to her mother and sister. I thought, it would be better to visit Behmai first to meet someone I wished to meet though I did not succeed. What I found there was shocking for me. The place where Phoolan Devi and her gang allegedly massacred 20 persons of village Behmai predominantly belonging to Rajput community who were accused of keeping silent when the Rajput gang of dacoits kidnapped her and sexually violated her during her captivity, on February 14th, 1981. At the outskirts of the village is this ‘shaheed smakark where the names of all those killed in that massacre have been written but this time one could see, a photograph of Sher Singh Rana above these names. Sher Singh Rana is the main culprit of murdering Phoolan Devi who claimed to have killed her to avenge the killings of Rajputs of Behmai. It is shocking to see the photograph of an accused adoring the village. How can Sher Singh Rana be a role model of the villagers of Behmahi ?
From Behmahi, I started for Kalpi in district Jalaun, along with some of my local friends who had known the family. After a difficult journey, we reached to village Ghura ka purva, Sheikhpuraguda which is Phoolan’s ancestor village about 20 kilometer from Kalpi. Fortunately, Phoolan’s mother Mula Devi had just arrived from her son’s place, so it was an occasion for us to interact with her. Initially, she was not willing to speak but later she relented. Phoolan’s another sister was there. When she realized, I came for Delhi specially to meet her and promised her to raise her case to the political leadership of Uttar Pradesh in due time, she requested that her ancestral land which is illegally usurped over by Phoolan’s Dau’s family, must be handed over to her son. Her sister who has started a political outfit to further the ‘political legacy’’ of Phoolan Devi demanded CBI inquiry of the murder. She said, these days governments have been ordering CBI inquiry for every petty thing including Madhumita case, why is Phoolan Devi’s murder not worthy of a CBI inquiry?’ She says, I am now running a political party called ‘Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party’ which work for all the communities and people.’
Phoolan Devi was a two time Member of Parliament of Samajwadi Party, a celebrated campaigner of the party who was used by the party in mobilizing, Nishads, one of the biggest communities in Uttar Pradesh. Initially, Ram Vilas Paswan two used her but later she shifted to Samajwadi Party. The political value of Phoolan was immense for Samajwadi Party that time. The first thing was to mobilise the Nishad, Mallah votes in different parts of the state which had joined hands with BSP and second, to counter Ms Mayawati’s star appeal as a mass based political leader. In fact, when Phoolan was promoted by Samajwadi Party vigorously, many of the people raised her caste status terming that she was not a Dalit woman. Phoolan was too simple to know the intricacies of politics though she enjoyed the stardom but if she developed a feeling of politically as matured and strong woman as Mayawati, then it was not her fault but perhaps she was made to believe by others who wanted to use her. Phoolan was a fighter but definitely not a hard core politician and remained a fairly down to earth and simple homely woman till her end.
As I sit on the cot bowing to Phoolan’s mother asking her whether she has any request for Mulayam Singh Yadav or Akhilesh Yadav, she says, she just want that justice be done to her regarding to her ancestral land which has been illegally acquired by Phoolan’s cousins. Now, the mother wants Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh to help her getting possession of her legitimate land. She says, she has nothing more to ask from the government except her legitimate land title.
‘Do you get any pension, I ask. No, she says. I got pension under Mahamaya scheme thrice but it got cut. She has a ration card but does not get anything from it. It’s very difficult for us. What to do. We are living life and taking it to our stride. With folded hands she ask Akhilesh Yadav to help her. The question is when the mother of a former Member of Parliament is in such a situation, it raises many valid questions about our democracy and the political system. Phoolan was accused of ‘amassing’ huge wealth but today any one can come here and see the condition of her ancestor home. She is trying to protect her small house too. It is sad that her own party has forgotten her. It is important to know how an old mother of a former Member of Parliament can’t even get her basic pension and why is she is now virtually begging.
Her mother does not want to politicize it and stops when her sister tried to suggest that they used her photograph for votes. Obviously, the question is serious but her mother seems to be very conscious and does not want to confront Samajwadi Party particularly Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav or Akhilesh Yadav. She says, ‘’ Phoolan followed the party dictates to contest election and even won that from a place which she had not known well. Our house is about to collapse. Akhilesh should listen to this and build this house and ensure my son get his agricultural land’. She asks me, ‘am I asking too much’’, to which I responded that housing and pension is her right. I ask her as what does she do and she respond that ‘I am not in a position to do anything like doing labour work. I have to virtually beg’. Though begging is a crime yet it should shock to us to see the mother of a member of parliament is today roaming helplessly to get her thing done. She says that she wanted to speak to Akhilesh Yadav but strangely none of the members of the party could speak to the party high command and seek justice for her. She says confidently that Akhilesh can resolve her crisis as he is in a power position. She gives details of the family. They were two brothers, Devideen and Bihari and both have one son each. Devideen’s son is Shiv Narain while Bihari’s son is Maiyadin. She accuses Maiyadin of snatching the right of his younger brother Shiv Narain. They are stuck in the litigation where witnessed have died. ‘Why the judgment is not coming’, she says. I have two grandchildren. How will they grow? The land will definitely help them.
The mother knows the fact which many people have been saying about Phoolan that she earned huge money but the fact is that if any one visit here will understand the crisis of the family and how they are facing it. It is terrible. The desperation is there but a hope too that political leadership will understand and help them. She take me inside her house to show me what is there inside a place which pretend to be the ‘kitchen’ but it is in shambles now and the roof can collapse any time. It was painful to see the house of Phoolan in such a shape though we cannot blame anyone for this but the political ethics suggest that Samajwadi Party and its leadership should have taken care of their small needs. Even as a poor and needy people from marginalized section of our society they need special assistance.
Mula Devi then takes me to her younger daughter Ram Kali’s house which is a few yards away from the ancestral house. That too is in a half built. The mother is more concerned about her younger daughter who was not home when we reached there as she had gone out for work. Ram Kali does not own any land and has to survive on working as a casual labor or MNRGA work. Mula Devi is too worried about Ram Kali and tells me even if things don’t happen for her, at least please try to get help for Ram Kali who neither is in good health nor have any source of income.
It is clear that Phoolan’s family does not have the appeal to attract Nishad votes. There was crisis in the family immediately after Phoolan’s death and Amar Singh was involved with the family. All of them came together even when sisters were demanding CBI inquiry. Phoolan was murdered on July 25th, 2001 at her residence in Delhi by Sher Singh Rana who as alleged has been a regular visitor of her house. The question is if the government had wanted a CBI inquiry could have been ordered. It was clear that the power elite never wanted the truth to come out and now Phoolan’s family who suffered because of her and remained with her through their thick and thin do not have access to anything. There are numerous ethical questions too how a woman’s earning goes to her husband’s side. Cant her mother claim a part in her property ? Cant the political leaders raise this valid question as why should her mother be forced to look for work as a casual labor in this age?
As Uttar Pradesh goes for poll, political parties will make lots of promises but the one fact that reminds us of the dirty political realities is that you are worshipped when you can get votes but once you are out of scene, the political leaders can be as ruthless and without any sentiments. Despite my disagreement with Samajwadi Party leadership on various policy issues, I had heard that Mulayam Singh Yadav cares for his cadre and leaders but in the case of Phoolan Devi, his party has totally failed to protect the interest of Phoolan’s family. It is time that the party wake up and respond to the cries of a mother, whose daughter was once a star campaigner for the party.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
The UP political situation have brought sharp differences between yesterday's friend who have now becoming bitter foes. People are posting things on Facebook and whats app abusing their former comrades just because one is on the side of Samajwadi Party while other on the Bahujan Samaj Party. I will make certain observations with my own understanding of the two and the legacies they claim to inherit. BSP emerged from a big movement that late Kanshiram started by mobilising the grassroot Bahujan masses, though it was existed earlier too in the form of splintered Ambedkarite followers all over the country. BAMSCEF that time was more an organisation for social change which look the society from very understanding of an Ambedkarite thought. The Samajwadi Party inherited or claim to inherit Lohia legacy which talks of caste identities and their participation in political structure but also glamorised village economy. At the end of the day Lohia remained a staunch Gandhian and countered Nehru for his 'western' thought.
Both SP and BSP were the parties of late eighties in technical terms though Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav was leader of opposition in Uttar Pradesh and built up his party from the ground. Kanshiram Ji's work was more of developing a staunch cader on Ambedkarite political philosophy. He was able to give voice to all those people and communities which remained hitherto unrepresented in political structure. Unlike RPI in Maharastra which Baba Saheb wanted to be party of diverse groups, BSP was able to attract diverse Bahujan communities even though opponent blamed it party of one community. There may be some truth in it but then every party has a core constituency which is important to nurture and on the basis of that strength, you can build better alliances with like minded groups.
When Samajwadi Party came to power in UP in the last term, one of the jokes that they started was related to Ambedkar Park which was definitely not a good taste. Akhilesh Yadav changed the names of all the district that Ms Mayawati has done in the name of great saints and Bahujan leaders. That was the worst decision on his part. In fact Akhilesh threatened to demolish Ambedkar Part too. Akhilesh with all good intention has limited social understanding but probably he feel that in politics you need to be goody to all but why that goody not extended to Dalits. It was under Akhilesh government that the state government openly encouraged the anti reservationists to campaign against reservation in Promotion. It was a sad spectacle. When thousands of OBC students had conversed in Allahabad for their genuine demands, they were called to Lucknow and when the talks failed, they were chased by the police and brutally lathicharged.
As a person who has followed Mulayam Singh Yadav's politics, I had only described the alliance between SP-BSP in 1992 bemel as Mr Kanshiram came from radical Ambedkarite movement while Mulayam Singh Yadav's emerged from mainstream socialist politics which actually legitimised RSS in 1975, the first time when Janata experiment happened.. The faith in social justice is essential for any alliance and I personally feel that even the Mandal Report in Uttar Pradesh was not implemented properly. There are many OBCs who are absolutely landless and Mandal recommendations are not just for job quota but for land reforms too. What happened ? Nothing.
When Akhilesh broke away from his father and allied with Congress, I termed it pragmatic decision. Political decisions are pragmatic and for survival too. Akhilesh is young and he will need to invest more time in the politics of social justice too rather than commenting on BSP and Ms Mayawati in contemptuous way.
Intellectuals should speak openly. They cant be devotees. They have to speak up for society and inform those in power where they lack. The battle today in UP is of a great national importance. I would always wish Uttar Pradesh to go Tamilnadu way where two 'national'' brahmanical parties become redundant but at the same point of time, it is essential that we learn from Tamilnadu where the Dravidian politics actually marginalised the Dalits further.
Let me make it clear that Ram Mamanohar Lohia was a great political leader but whenever India's Bahujan masses look for socio cultural emancipation they will have to go to Ambedkar Phule and Periyar. It is here, I wish Akhilesh could have invested time to understand all these revolutionaries. When I am reading comments here on facebook, it pains me. Some say, we are Phulewadis and not Ambedkarites. How is this possible ? Every Ambedkarite is a Phulewadi too. Every Ambedkarite is essentially a Buddhist too, not just in term of religion but in terms of philosophy. Some days back many çommentators'' wrote that Periyar, Phule and others are OBC icons and not Dalit warriors which may be technically true but who is carrying them further ? Who brought them to political discourse in Uttar Pradesh. The Janata Dal or the Samajwadis ? It is the BSP which brought to them in political discourse and that is essential. Uttar Pradesh need Ambedkar Phule and Periyar otherwise the brahmanical elite will always distort the political changes here.
Almost all the political parties somewhere allied with RSS and perhaps we have to differentiate when Congress was the main brahmanical party. But in today's context, it is essential to be unambiguous about our relationship with Hindutva when the Hindutva forces are up in arm using their 'saam-daam-dand-bheda'' to bring the manuwadi varna system. Akhilesh Yadav rarely spoke on violence against Dalits. He did not speak on Una incident. He had not time to see what was happening in JNU. It is important now for the Samajwadi Party, if it wish to look sincere to broaden its social base.
Miss Mayawati in recent years have been very vocal on these issues and was a welcome step from her earlier polity of isolation. She made it clear that in no way she is going to ally with BJP. Let us not bring history as every one has a history including Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Hindu Maha Sabha, being member of Nehru cabinet and prior to that part of Muslim League Ministry, in Bengal under Fazal-ul Haq. So politics many time need associations and links but in today's time you can not be an opportunist in the name of running the government when the country has seen Hindutva's hate propaganda and anti people activities.
The attempt to put Lohia against Ambedkar must be condemned as done by many. I met many of those who knew it that Dr Lohia was in constant touch with Dr Ambedkar. It is open secret that Lohia Admired Ambedkar a lot and wanted him the leader of opposition and both were working for building up a party that represent India's wider oppressed masses. In fact, I am told, Dr Lohia was supposed to be joining the Republican Party of India when it was to be formed. Unfortunately, the demise of Dr Ambedkar left the entire legacy in bad hands and RPI became one community party which Baba Saheb never wanted. On December 5th, 1956 Dr Ambedkar had written two letters to veteran socialist leader N G Gore and Atre. He was in touch with Mr S M Joshi too to form a bigger alliance against the Congress Party which was the main political party during those years. Obviously, if Baba Saheb and Lohia were alive today, they would have joined hand to defeat the communal fascist forces represented by the Hindutva forces. The anti congressism of 1950s and 1960s is not valid today when the Hindutva's brahmanical forces have unleashed their anti people propaganda so ruthlessly.
Friends, political parties will not implement the socio cultural agenda that we wish. They have to be part of the political structure and we can only use their good will in propagating things and also getting things done.It is the social movement which force them to do so. Be part of these movements that compel political leaders to listen to them. While there is no doubt that BSP will have to improve its working and Ms Mayawati will have to be more accessible to people, it is time we understand that SP and BSP are rivals in Uttar Pradesh hence there is bound to happen some bitterness among their fans but those who call themselves íntellectuals' and activists have to come out of this fan mania and think of a larger perspective. I hope the rivalry does not give the brahmanical manipulators chance to blackmail them in the aftermath of the elections. People in constituencies know who is better and who is not. Uttar Pradesh will vote on community lines as it is happening and I must say, there is only one wave in Uttar Pradesh which is against #notebandi and Narendra Modi. We hope people give the BJP a good lesson.
Uttar Pradesh can bring huge political change in political history of India. That time has come now. Can the Bahujan forces respond to it positively ? Remember 21st century is that of Baba Saheb Ambedkar's enlightened vision which is meant for all Indian across diverse communities as it has ways and means to overcome hurdles and built an egalitarian society. Those who want to put Ambedkar into a particular category do a great damage to his tremendous work to unite India and its havenots. Hope people will understand it in the greater interest of strengthening Bahujan movement in India
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Rajvir Diler belong to Valmiki community and fighting on BJP ticket from one of the constituency in Hatharas, Uttar Pradesh. A report in several newspapers including Times of India suggest that he has been campaigning in such a way to get the big Jat votes which are decisive in his constituency so he does not enter the houses of the Jats and keep a glass with him to drink tea. He even touches the feet of much younger people of his age. This man is BJP candidate to represent people in Uttar Pradesh assembly. Isnt is shocking that a person is justifying untouchability and caste discrimination as 'parampara' just to get elected. Should we go down begging in such a way that humiliate not only to the individuals but also to community itself ? How is that BJP kind of party which talk of Samarasta never noticed this. Will the election Commission or Supreme court of INdia take notice of it that a candidate face untouchability during his campaign. Are not these shameful incidents ? But the question who is to be blamed ? Rajvir Diler who is not really a Diler but is begging for the Jat votes who will humiliate him. Is this the politics that empowers ? It reflect that Manuwadi varna system is still prevalent and whereever power communities are dominant they will only want submissive humiliated leadership of Dalits. That is the reason why they hate Mayawati who stand taller and has the capacity to tame a Raja Bhaiya or a Mahendra Singh Tikait.
This question is serious. We condemn this untouchability but we also have to introspect as why do politicians do this. They make their communities ashamed of it. A man contesting assembly is begging and going with his separate glass so that he could drink tea in a separate class is a perfect example of Manuwadi India and that political power has not brought much change but I am sure such persons can only be in Gandhi's Harijan club and not in Ambedkar's highly self respecting movement. It is time we stand up and just reject such 'reserve' leaders who do not have the capacity to stand up. Get defeated but fight with dignity and self respect. The caste forces will do everything to humiliate but it is our duty to give them a good reply and that is not possible through succumbing to their pressures and humiliations.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is the party of the Manuwadi minds who would never like to offend Jats and we saw Amit Shah telling them that they have a six hundred years old partnership. Amit Shah is right but the partnership of the upper caste gangs against Dalits is more than two thousand years and it continues. Mujaffarnagar's violence against Muslims too has a caste bias. There was a time when the Western Uttar Pradesh's Dalits would not dare to go to booths and Chaudhury Saheb would become the most powerful leaders but after the powerful mobilisation by late Kanshiram the Dalits started voting with dignity and self respect but it is shameful that these people are now betraying that strength of the Dalits with total surrender.
In the golden land of Western Uttar Pradesh caste prevails in all forms though it has more violent forms if you violate it. Honored killing, khap Panchayats, Jat Panchayats and so many things but then the Bhim Sena too is growing, the Bhim Shakti too is growing in this region. Perhaps Rajvir Diler should join the Bhim Sena or Bhim Shakti and rather than contesting elections should focus on building a powerful movement to get people justice. Even if he becomes an MLA, he would only serve as a stooge of these caste Hindus and will only be detrimental.
Political parties must get out of this kind of politics. This shows how the BJP and its Hindutva mind select Dalit leaders. They want tame leaders who cant speak, who just stand on their orders. It is time for people to reject it. The Dalit Bahujan polity in Uttar Pradesh has changed and thank to late Kanshiram ji that they are rising and challenging the status quo. Even if they have to join hands with upper castes, it will be on equal term and not being a subservient partner. Western Uttar Pradesh must change. Manuwadi village system is determined to foil the political democracy as enshrined in our constitution. Hope all the political leaders who talk of social justice must respond to it. Report if any candidate behave in such a way or forced to behave in such a way that violate the dignity of the candidate is violative of our constitution and all norms of humanity. It is condemnable. Parties must take note of it.
My appeal to the candidates is please do not humiliate your communities just to win a few votes from the caste Hindus. It also mean that all the Dalits who are contesting on BJP ticket are just for the name and will not be able to work with their head high. Will the BJP leadership condemn such blatant violation of human dignity?
The Jatland need to understand that the world is watching them and they wont gain anything out of such humiliating practices. It is time they reject them and change a bit. Traditions are not always great. It hurt, it ruins a generation. Peace cant be built on such pathetic ideas. It is time to grow up.
Baba Saheb Ambedkar knew about it and that is why he talked of representation and participation. He talked about separate electorate system as those who get elected will have to follow the diktats of the caste Hindus. But despite that warning of Baba Saheb, the rise of BSP with great work done by late Kanshiram ji, things changed especially in Uttar Pradesh where Dalits allied with other like minded groups like Muslims and even OBCs to come to power. There was a great social churning even if it was short lived when BSP-SP joined hand and defeated the Sangh Parivar in Uttar Pradesh. It is clear that the brahmanical upper caste parties only want those Dalits to be in the party who can only serve as their puppet and humiliate the community. This must stop. This is highly denigrating and we hope leadership of different parties will speak on this issue.
One thing is clear that the oppressor never change, they only change their tactics. They only change when the oppressed revolt and react. That is the only way. The Dalits in Uttar Pradesh are rising but BJP and Hindutva want to ensure that they be presented in a humiliating way. We hope when the final result come, the people will elect a leader with power and strength. Even if Diler wins, we don't think, he will be able to do justice to his community.