The Man, His Mission and His Grand Victories
The power of being in the power
‘Capture the temple of the Political power into your hands to secure your political rights’ Dr. B R Ambedkar.
Merit is a relative term. What is merit for them (Uppercaste) is not merit for us (Underclass). For us the merit has long been defined. It’s underlined by our lifestyle, the way we‘ve been leading our lives through long years of survival and turmoil and that is to establish India of JUSTICE social, economic and political. The Indian upper caste politicians are not and will never be known for quality and all inclusive governance but for their caste manipulation which would yield maximum benefit for them. The Indian Administrative Services are not seem very genuine in their efforts for promoting, strengthening, implementing and establishing the guiding principals of constitution but to put hurdles as it is quite visible through the ever widening gap between haves and have not day in day out. But absorbing all this socio-political shocks a man rose on the Horizon of Indian politics armed with ideology and aggressive policy of change, so as to conquer these two frontiers of epoch-making in order to implement the constitution of great emancipator of suppressed India- Dr B R Ambedkar. As the historian L.V. Namier has rightly mentioned in his book 'In the Margin of History’ the weight of argument greatly depends on him who uses it: that of the strong has "force" and carries "conviction"; that of the weak, if unanswerable, is debunked as “quibble” and “apt to cause annoyance”. As the Underclass community is not economically strong and has no considerable socio-economic power, which is why its concerns are likely to be dismissed as quibbles and non-meritorious against the powerful lobby of so called socially dominant groups. The man then redefined the paradigm of merit in simple term. The merit in every sphere of socio-cultural-service-political activities is to value the voices, aspirations and concerns of suppressed India so as to establish India of JUSTICE social, economic and political. And those play substantial role in achieving it will be termed meritorious.
He was obsessed with only one thing through out his public life: how he could be instrumental in installing men of his community (i.e., the suppressed India) on the throne of power and make them indispensable part of governing councils. He strategiesed, chalked the plan out, raised the resources, marshaled them smartly, effectively, optimally and efficiently, networked the party workers, earned their confidence, trained and bonded them tighter, nurtured the patient mindsets to absorb pains and turmoil, waited for the right time and like a true unpredictable pragmatic bargained way beyond par excellence that helped the BSP acquired critical political-mass and detonated to spark the chain-reaction of party’s growth. And thus the man successfully set the power’s rocket firing that catapulted and smoothly established the BSP in the divine orbit of governing council. This is how this greatest ‘Showman of Indian Politics’ exhibited to the world the party which is at the helm of the affair of non-mainstream political wing could reach to the top by democratically winning the throne of Indians’ largest and most orthodox state- Uttar Pradesh (UP). You know who this man was? He is none other than Kanshiramji billions salutes to his incomparable epoch-making work for instilling the value of ‘Political Win’ and nurturing ‘Can Do and It’s Possible’ mind set in suppressed Indians.
So how this man wielded and possessed with mission impossible, achieved an impossible feat here is a small but convincing attempt to trace the self-propelled trajectory of his public career.
It all begun when Kanshiramji very early realized after the death of Dr. B R Ambedkar that the current underclass leadership which was mainly came to power or acquired ministerial portfolios for self gain or made so were useless lot. They never sought or were able to mobilize a bloc of MPs in order to make policy gains for the underclass within Cabinet. And then this man initiated work of mobilizing dedicated party workmen those then emerged as true winners and forced policy change under the flagship of the BSP adorned with the much loved elephant by Dr B R Ambedkar.
The Vote Bank Building and strengthening in the India, which is a cultural and caste mosaic, is inevitability in Indian politics mainly because which section of mosaic would behave which way and who would win over whom and tries to wean away is quite unpredictable. The congress party’s so called character of all inclusiveness beguiled most of the underclass communities to adhere to it. The congress considered them as a vote bank like some paternal inheritance, as if of its never ending right. The Congress never encouraged to substantiate the position of underclass leaders who would stand and demand for the legitimate rights of the underclass, instead it imaginatively implemented the principal of nurturing the loyal herds of leaders those only allowed to mix their voices when the party demanded or whipped so during the policy making and enforcing. There are plenty of examples that show the duality of the congress. The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), second largest political party which has its inception in promoting aggressive Hindutva, in such party if your are adhere and abide by the principals of the party then only you are allowed to be a part of the organization, so there is no chance of promoting any of your agendas here. One more prominent thing here is that BJP consider problems of Hindu India, which according to them are of similar nature no matter which community one belongs to, that turns things even more complex.
There are plenty of individuals who clearly illustrate that the Underclass politicians have not thrived within Congress or BJP if they had too strenuously promoted the cause of their own people. Yogendra Makwana, a talented and energetic Minister of the early 1980s whose career did not flourish and prosper under the leadership of either Indira or Rajiv Gandhi. He remained the ignored one who tried to promote the cause of his people but could not do much against the policy of congress leadership. Buta Singh, a Mazhabi Sikh (converted from a Sweeper caste) contrast version of Makwana, rose to the position of Home Minister under the same Prime Ministers. Buta Singh was known for his political and social-skills and his loyalty to the Nehru family, rather than for any particular zeal for the problems of the Underclass. Later in the reign of P V Narasimharao he was relegated to quite a lower ministerial portfolio. Of course, almost all the leading mainstream political parties tend to distrust colleagues of whatever community if they have mass base or political agenda independent of their own. But if those men are readily share their political base and people’s support behind them for augmenting the chance of success of their parties then such men are allowed to be part of the governing council, unless, of course, he sheds his own agenda.
Here the discussion would be incomplete if the name of Jagjivan Ram is not figured because he became a genuinely national figure through Congress. Jagjivan Ram rose to the position of Defence Minister thanks to the patronage of Jawaharlal Nehru. The post of Deputy Prime Minister under Charan Singh in 1979 was clearly a reward for ostensibly having delivered the Underclass vote to the Janta coalition in the extraordinary election of 1977. He holds the record of enjoying the post of union-minister for 26 long years, longest ever by any Indian. It was a consequence of both his competence and also his carefulness not to engage in dissent and controversy. On personal side it is possible that he was able to deliver votes to Indira Gandhi in the succession contest after the death of Prime Minister Shastri and in the Congress split of 1969. But when he left Congress in 1977 he failed to persuade any of the Party's other Scheduled Caste MPs to accompany him. Once he became a Minister he seems not to have made problems and programs for uplift of underclass a central preoccupation in either speech or action. ‘Caste Challenge in India’ a typical loyal servant’s tribute formatted book published in 1980 was his extensive public comment over the issue of problems faced by the community he belonged. At that time it was believed that Jagjivan could be more expansive now that his career had come to an end. But still the book was neither novel in its analysis nor especially hard-hitting. Despite the book's mild tone, the preface contains the propitiatory remark that his views are offered 'not to hurt any class or caste but to provide a brief historical account of the Hindu social system and the miserable condition of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes'. There is one more name prominent in the list is the current union minister of power Sushil Kumar Shinde. He proclaimed himself a loyal party-worker of congress. So, what one would expect of him. And the Republic Party of India mainly based in Maharashtra imagined to be following the political guidelines of Dr. B R Ambedkar has been infected with unrecoverable disease of ‘externally sponsored factionism’ soon after its inception.
It is indeed a biting reality that the low social standing has made individual Underclass spokesmen relatively easy targets for political demolition. The ideological and social makeup of Congress or the BJP has made it less than welcoming to highly assertive advocates of the Underclass cause. So it was the social political setup that the Underclass has to construct their political careers as dependants within factions led by high-caste politicians. It is impossible to think of a single example of a substantial multi-caste faction leader who is/was himself an Underclass. But it is the exceptions that validate the rule. The man rose on the horizon of Indian politics, armed with indispensable vision and winning strategy- Kanshiramji, instilled the value of winning and what it can do for them in the minds of Underclass by making his close-aid Mayawatiji, chief minister of UP state.
The Indian National Congress has been ruling the roost of Indian governing council since the Independence baring few exceptions. But innumerable people since then took their ablution bath in Ganga River and added their share of moral pollution. Change is inevitable, the primer rule of nature, and it takes own course of action if you failed to trace its trajectory in the game of politics. But sometimes it’s not always enough no matter how hard you try as the tide of change has already chosen its course of action and that’s what exactly happened in the largest populated state of India i.e., UP. The change accorded throne of UP to BSP but not before testing rigorously its character of all-inclusiveness, novelty, durability and sustainability. It was not an easy task to take on already established political parties with money, might, political clout and higher so called social status. Pushing them all aside the BSP cleared the desk to establish a power of the party whose leadership is mainly centered on a lady of suppressed India. The master of craft, Kanshiramji maneuvered the moves and fetched beyond-imaginative victory.
In the general election of 1984 Congress won eighty-three out of eighty-five UP seats. Congress' dominance had been built on a strong command of the Brahmin, Muslim and Underclass ‘vote banks', together with considerable but variable support from the other upper castes and also the Backward Castes. But five years later the party won only fifteen seats with 32 per cent of the vote. In 1991 the Congress vote slipped further to 18 per cent, and it won five seats. This was also its tally of seats in 1996. While the Underclass is a crucial Congress vote bank in India as a whole and in a majority of individual States, but it is the fact that they do not cling to Congress in regions where another party or movement rose to dominance. Gradually after late fifties and seventies the party started losing its sheen in the states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerla to the Communist party of various leaning and the other regional parties like Telgu Desum, DMK and AIADMK. Within Congress the importance of the Underclass vote did not translate itself into great influence for individual suppressed Indian in either the organization or the ministry.
In the Governments formed after the elections of 1952, 1957, 1962, 1977 and 1982 in West Bengali there was not a single Scheduled Caste member of the Council of Ministers, Of course, it is not merely the Scheduled Castes that have been grossly underrepresented in Cabinets - the same is true for Scheduled Tribes, Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. The above question can be crystallized by reference to Ambedkar's description of Indian Communists as 'a bunch of Brahman boys' He was referring not only to the number of Brahmins within the Party, but also to discriminatory attitudes and blindness to the problems of the Untouchables.
Kanshiramji very early realised the fact that no political party had genuine concerns for flourishing the Underclass leadership which take prominent stand in order to secure the rights of Suppressed India. He was not blind to the fact that despite efforts to ameliorate Underclass’s condition on the part of the state, and on the part of the new generation of political leaders who represent them, a considerable edifice of discrimination persists on the basis of a tradition of ritual subordination. Their all time shrewd political game plan was only to use the Underclass votes for furthering their causes against offering building Individual’s capacity amongst the suppressed India. They never thought of considering building capacities of community as a whole. There only Kanshiramji decided that he would build a leadership and political party that would only engage in nurturing the organic leadership that would not only make their sole aim of realising the aspirations of Underclass but earn them a place of repute in governing council. He strived very hard to make it a permanent feature. Accordingly the man strategiesed his political move and built the potent army of Bhaujan to conquer the temple of power.
The four month period in power, in year 1995, is what kindled the torch of political enlightenment for the whole BSP cadre. The BSP, seized unlikely opportunity in UP after the collapse of a Government in which it was junior partner. The event was improbable without being unimaginable. Mayawati's minority Government took oath. It was backed by the right-wing BJP for strategic reasons. Though it was lasted for just four months but it was indeed magically mesmerizing moment for party leaders because they were quite aware of the divine treasure that power would unleash before them. Mayawati, a lady of suppressed India, became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP). She is the first Underclass woman to have acceded to the highest office in an Indian state of orthodox leaning. It was not the gender most remarkable aspect of this accession in the country which is known for its myriad of inequalities but it was special from the fact that a Underclass lady becoming Chief Minister through the vehicle of a political party centered on Underclass themselves which can go down well as an extremely miraculous event than any of the miracle that the holy make-believes Hindu religious books contains. And what made it possible was the novel pragmatic-political-approach of the BSP supremo Kanshiramji. The accession had emphatically proved, perhaps for the very first time that the Underclass was a central and not merely a marginal political force with considerable potent might. The very advent of such a Government had an electrifying effect on Underclass across India.
After the first unsuccessful experiment in the power after that the BSP enjoyed four stints in power of short and long durations. Thrice it has been in power with one or the other political party (in 1993 with SP; in 1997 and 2002 with the BJP). The BSP for the very first time tested the fruits of being in the power when it formed Government supported by the BJP from outside in 1995. It is the only party in India which has successfully used "alliance politics" optimally. It has successfully maneuvered the growth of party’s support base during the power. Kanshiramji is the classical case of making the most of what was being offered in the game of coalition politics by assimilating the various sections of the state in party’s welfare measures. Kanshiramji created opportunities and equally with great aplomb reinforced its support by widening its vote base just within a decade of formation of a party. That’s brought to the fore the master strokes of ruthless pragmatic political concoction of master of his style of politics Kanshiramji.
Kanshiramji deserves salutation for proving the so called secularists and pseudo-secularists wrong who predicted a definite co-option of the BSP whenever it entered in coalition to form a Government with the BJP. But the BSP instead exposed the deficiency of ideologues of different shades. The party had always remained committed to its agenda thereby spreading its support-base, leaving the BJP leaders and its supporters high and dry.
The collation politics has its own burdens but the BSP proved to be mastered the game by not bowing down to the pressure tactics of the coalition partner. Though many alleged that BSP follows no principal of sharing power but how could that be possible when you were engaged in coalition and not following the principal canon. But in BSP’s sharing the development of Bahujan politics remained at the center stage. It helped realised the party’s agenda of gaining political power which the party believes the mother of all development. This strict and stubborn approach of the BSP soon made it the party to be ‘detested’ in the political circle. It is astonishing to see that outfits with different political ideologies and social base have joined against the BSP. As the BSP running its own agenda and were not ready to waver a little when it comes to the welfare measure of the underclass soon it started to become the victim of the isolation. But the process of isolation has given it an exclusive identity and status of a strong party which doesn't take things lying down and decides it own course. Here Kanshiramji scored exceptional points of political merit over the so called leaders of Underclass scattered in various political parties of various leanings. In a way it helped sending strong message amongst the underclass voter that the BSP leadership has genuine concern for the welfare of the community and it would never compromise on the issue which would subvert the interest of the community for some minor political gains.
Kanshiramji shown his political acumen the way he handled the defections of its MLAs by various political parties and classically exploited the situation for party’s promotion. The BSP, party of the poor, for its top leadership it was very difficult to keep its MLAs in party’s fold against the external hefty monitory offers. It couldn’t do much against the defection but the way the BSP has highlighted, though obliquely, the immoral practices of different political parties was remarkable success of the top leadership. It happened in 1995 when SP did it, BJP tried its hand in 1997 and SP did it again with the help of BJP in 2003. Further more these practices have been so overpowering that all the institutions on democracy were subverted. The offices of Speaker of the Assembly and the highest seat of justice were also not spared and the nation saw how the established rules of law were subverted to suit the BSP's opposite party. Even though absorbing all these initial political shocks, quakes and hiccups of considerable magnitude the BSP kept growing to the point that the state’s politics started veering around it, which was pragmatically exploited by Kanshiramji with extraordinary support of Mayawatiji.
There is no denying the fact that the democratic rights enshrined in the constitution did have their impact but it was very limited as there was no potent force to claim these rights. The Underclass was taken for granted and had to listen to their dictates. Any voice of descent was brutally crushed. And in this context BSP made the difference. Obviously the so-called upper castes were socially, economically and politically dominant and ruled the society in a hegemonic manner. But gradually after 1984 with the formation of BSP things started changing. It is for the first time in history of independent India some political party of bunch of Underclass tried to puncture the ugly wildly bloated socio-political hegemony of upper caste successfully. It created self-respect, confidence, and assertion among the erstwhile cumulatively deprived Underclass. And its credit goes to the pragmatic leaning of Kanshiramji and his novel experiments. Truly, era of politics of pragmatic experiments.
UP has always been the laboratory of politics and political activism of various shades. The experiments of political assertion of the Underclass in the form of the BSP, or the emergence of Hindu nationalist BJP, have been carried out here. The peasant-dominated agricultural-capitalist political outfit with considerable might and clout too has registered it origin here. The Politics and political activism of various shade concocted number of new power-hungry coalitions to manipulate power in UP. Foes have turned into friends with apparently no respect to principles. Traditional prejudices have blurred in a quest for new alignments.
The BSP has systematically nurtured the seed of its growth after the emergence of various political ideologies and parties in the State. Partly because of their own attractiveness- the growth of Janta Dal and its offshoots, including Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party, and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) coincided with the waning of Congress. In 1989 elections Janta Dal, with securing fifty-four seats and 36 per cent of the vote emerged as a leading party. The Janta Dal and the Samajwadi Party’s efforts to win over the Backward Castes paid them dividends in the successive elections each of these two political forces picked up other groups as they gathered momentum. But in the next election of 1991 the BJP snatched this position from Janta Dal by securing fifty-one seats and 33 per cent of the vote. The BJP has traditionally been strongest among the upper castes of the towns that helped it gained position of prominent political force in the state. The BSP though was a minor player but it was preparing itself for the greater goals. The Janta Dal and Samajwadi parties attracted a large share of the Muslim vote disenchanted with Congress after the destruction of the Babri Masjid. And the BJP has picked up considerable Backward Caste support, partly because it has had a strong Backward Caste (Lodhi) leader in Kalyan Singh. After the waning of Janta Dal which was crippled mainly because of factionism, Mulayam Singh’s aggressive efforts in spreading its wings in the state paid him rich dividends. Soon his party became the leading party in the state replacing the BJP. In all this political game of winning and losing the one party which was making inroad slowly but constantly was the BSP. The only problem, but of prominent magnitude in the state was: there emerging new leading parties by replacing one by other, but no-party came out with absolute mandate required to form the government. And this resulted into the formation of various coalitions which led to varieties of unpopular subversion of the democratic Institutions in the state.
The rise of Kanshiram's BSP to the point where it was able to form the State government four times was development of the first importance in Uttar Pradesh. His party’s rise could not be attributed to the collapse of congress. There were other parties readily exploited the situations. And even the congress collapse was not an auto-political phenomena but it was partly collective sum of individual efforts of the various political parties and activism and party the fault of congress leaderships and some of its suicidal decisions in the state. Mulayam Singh and the BJP manipulated their vote bank of Yadav, Muslims and OBCs and upper castes respectively. Kanshiramji entered into the foray of state’s politics by vociferously voicing the aspirations of the Chamars, and he has also had a radicalizing impact on a wider constituency of Backward and other Scheduled Caste communities. While doing all this there was exciting plan taking shape in his mind of put together a winning combination which was once the strongest point of Congress, i.e., Underclass, Uppercaste, OBCs and Muslims combine vote bank. But to start with he fixed his target to win over the support of Chamars, some sections of OBCs (particularly the Kurmis), other Scheduled Caste communities and also the Muslims. In doing so Kanshiram's mode of operation has been to yoke an aggressive Ambedkarite ideology to hard-headed manipulation of the vote banks of Uttar Pradesh.
Kanshiramji strung-together the Chamars across the state, which constitutes not only the largest Untouchable caste in India, but almost certainly the largest single caste in Uttar Pradesh. Kanshi Ram has not had the total support of the Chamars. In the beginning he enjoyed overwhelming support of Jatavs of eastern UP and as time went by he won over the Jatavs of western UP gradually, clearly depicts the success of his well laid down plan. The master then went all out to take a greater stride for brining the Muslims under the party’s widened wing so as to accommodate them in such a fashion that they would feel at home. He gave more seats than what the Muslims could have expected- in the knowledge that voters will often be attracted by a candidate of their own community. The indispensable basis of his power is his own community, the Chamars. The Bahujan Samaj could offer these communities the prospect that the large Chamar vote would be added to theirs, since the Chamars believed that the party was above all theirs (similar guts were later shown by Mayawati in 2007 assembly election when she made efforts to win over the Brahmins it paid rich dividends for her as she came to power with clear mandate). Kanshiram’s novel experiment yielded expected result in successive elections. In 1989 the party won thirteen out of 425 State Assembly seats, and in 1991 it won twelve. The party won only two Parliamentary seats in 1989, and one in 1991. Then to trigger the party’s quantum growth Kanshiramji decided to go in for pre-poll alliance with Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party (SP), the idea worked very well and the BSP won 67 seats in 1996. In 2002 it won 98 seats all without any alliance. In 2007 election it has crossed the half-way mark in the 403-member assembly mainly due the aggressive implementation of the program laid down by Kanshiramji with some innovations by Mayawatiji. It is a big jump because in 2004, it won 97 assembly seats. As was vision by Kanshiramji the party’s ascendancy curve in politics transcend into ‘Curve of Care’ for the Suppressed India.
Kanshiramji never wavered in his idea of gaining political power. His vision was solely focused on to capture the Institutions of power which would essentially be utilized for realising the aspirations of Suppressed India. As he marched on the path of his public career as the founder member of BAMCEF to DS4 (earlier version of BSP) his larger understanding of social change considerably evolved through the process of pragmatic political churning. He no longer believed in the primacy of social reform. He very rarely commented or theorized on any of the old or new sociological or economical phenomenon that evolved due to increase global trading relations and cultural transitions, which set to give new dimensions to the problems of Underclass. He did not favour expenditure of valuable time on any other issue that involves no game plan of capturing power. He was of the view of administrative power would bring about desired social change and not vice versa. The appropriate policies will fall into place once power is attained was his foremost direction to his fellow party workers. He always asked and insisted Bhaujan to wage a holy war against Brahminwadi, their evil oppressor since time immemorial. In the context of this war he argued no pragmatic political move is bad if that dislodges Brahminwadi from the holy seat of administration. And thus he freed himself to engage in the most ruthless political pragmatism for capturing power so as to achieve greater goal of reconfiguring the rules of game to prioritize the issues of suppressed India first and foremost.
Born to a slightly literate Raedasi Sikh, (converted from Chamar community, scheduled caste) peasant in 1934, Kanshiramji was the eldest son and only graduate amongst four daughters and three sons. After completion of B’Sc degree, Kanshiramji managed to secure a job in the Survey of India against reserved position. In year 1958 he transferred to the Department of Defence Production as a scientific assistant in a munitions factory in Pune. He, as per the available information, had not encountered Untouchability as a child, and overt discrimination was not a phenomenon within the educated circles of his adult life. In 1965 an event in which his Scheduled Caste colleague who vehemently tried to oppose abolition of a holiday commemorating Dr B R Ambedkar's birthday anniversary he all of sudden encountered a depth of high-caste prejudice and hostility towards Underclass. Perhaps this event might have etched in his mind ‘the power of being in the power’ that can easily abolish the interests of Underclass and then he might have pleaded with himself that he would reorder and reconfigure the present system to protect, secure and establish the rule of Underclass by capturing the administrative power. He got caught up in the fight too. His almost instant radicalization was completed soon after by a reading of Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste: he read the book three times in one night, going entirely without sleep. It later on disturbed the sweet and cozy sleep of many Brahminwadi, as he went on becoming master of spinning web of novel pragmatic politics in UP.
Maharashtra state was quite at forefront when it comes to the political awakening amongst the Underclass masses mainly due to the epoch-making work of Dr B R Ambedkar and his activism in the state, though it has a pan India appeal but as he was native to this place it created army of activists through Republican Party of India, a political wing for promoting and securing the political rights of Underclass, a grand vision of Dr B R Ambedkar. In Maharashtra, which is adorned by the legacy of Dr B R Ambedkar, Kanshiramji was mesmerized by the political ideas of Dr. B R Ambedkar which he came to know through his Buddhist colleague and friend at the munitions factory, D K Khaparde. He got instantly attracted to the political philosophy of Dr B R Ambedkar. Together the two of them began formulating ideas for an organization to be built by educated employees from the Scheduled and Backward castes. Though he continued his job until about 1971 he had quite lost interest in the job the moment he involved in the formulation of rights-protection wing of the underclass employee. He was thinking of becoming a full time activist which an event substantiated, when after a severe conflict over the non-appointment of an apparently qualified Scheduled Caste young woman. During this conflict he had gone so far as to strike a senior official, and he did not even bother attending most of the ensuing disciplinary proceedings.
He quit the job and in 1971 Kanshi Ram and his colleagues established the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities Employees Welfare Association, which was duly registered under the Poona Charity Commissioner. Their primary object was: To subject our problems to close scrutiny and find out quick and equitable solutions to the problems of injustice and harassment of our employees in general and the educated employees in particular. He did not stop here. He was quite aware of the fact that all over India the nature of the problems of the underclass government employee are someway of similar nature. Where would they go in order to tackle the problems that directly threaten their services or legitimate rights when they are surrounded by high intensity hostility? His ideas were of grand scale: immediately with his friend he thought of establishing an all India underclass employee federation that resulted into formation of The All India Backward and Minority Employees Federation (BAMCEF) in 1973, and a functioning office was established in Delhi in 1976. BAMCEF was re-launched with greater fanfare on 6 December 1978, the anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar's death, with claims of two thousand delegates joining a procession to the Boat Club Lawns in New Delhi.
The size and reach of the BAMCEF started flourishing under the visionary leadership of Kanshiramji. He took lots of pains for widening the reach of the BAMCEF. During many of his trip from Poona to Delhi he adopted the habit of getting down at major stations along the way - Nagpur, Jabalpur and Bhopal, among others- to contact likely sympathizers and tried to recruit them to the organisation. By the mid-1970s Kanshi Ram had established a broad if not dense network of contacts throughout Maharashtra and adjacent regions. Once he had moved to Delhi he pushed into northern state like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc. Kanshiramji was very novel in his idea of spreading the work of Dr B R Ambedkar. Not only did he start a BAMCEF Bulletin to maximize the reach of federation and put together subscribers, but also took to the task of educating employees by contacting a wider audience with simple presentations of Ambedkar's teachings. The result of it was 'Ambedkar Mela on Wheels' a road-show put together in 1980 that toured, between April and June, thirty-four destinations in nine States of the north India. This was an oral and pictorial account of Dr B R Ambedkar's life and views, together with contemporary material on oppression, atrocities and poverty. Through out the tour he had appealed and educated to the Underclass community to agitate for their political rights as no one would do it for them. He had narrated it as an ultimate gift of freedom that they should present to their brothers and themselves. So arm up and put up a brave fight was his appeal. As time went by and organisation started acquiring might the rhetoric had grown bolder, sharper and acuter. It was not merely the oppressors who came in the line of fire, but also many of the reserved office holders mainly due to their apathetic approach towards the problems of community.
During his tours Kanshiramji successfully managed to attach many employees belongs to numerous castes and the able and potential leaders to the federation, who later held important organizational positions after the formulation of political wing in the form of BSP. Jang Bahadur Patel, a Kurmi (Backward Caste) and is one such example. He was President of the Uttar Pradesh Branch of the BSP until late 1995. Kanshiramji had very accurately estimated the fact that due to Underclass’s weight of numbers, they had the potential to convert themselves from 'beggars to rulers'. But only thing they should do was to come under one flag and push for their agenda things, will with immediate effect, start changing for their betterment. Kanshiramji iterated in his speech to the gatherings and in his literatures how the Scheduled Castes, Tribes and also the Backwards and Minorities all were victims of Brahminism and how Dr B R Ambedkar had struggled through out his life for all the down-trodden classes for sensitizing them for their socio-political rights. Yet his target of assimilating all the Underclass under one ideology was far way off. That is mainly because SCs constituted about 90 per cent of the membership of federation, with the other 10 per cent being split between Tribal and Other Backward Castes.
But his efforts bore somewhat expected results. He had by now earned a lot of confidence that he could mobilize the men and resources. The agitational works undertaken under the banner of BAMCEF were attracting him into politics. BAMCEF's motto, 'Educate, Organise and Agitate', which was adopted from Dr B R Ambedkar and its activities, were formally divided into a number of welfare and proselytizing objects of the employees. For him enough was not enough, and to mobilize large section of the Underclass, he knew the limitations of the BAMCEF. By the late 70s he was no longer content with what could be done under BAMCEF. So in 1981 he formed Dalit SoshitSamaj Sangharsh Samiti abbreviated as DS4, first novel attempt to create a radical political vehicle capable of mobilizing the larger body of Underclass. It shared the same President in Kanshiramji, the same office, and many of the same members. Though DS4 was not a full-fledged political party, but it set the rhythm of coming events. He dissolved it in year 1984, with satisfaction of its little but concrete progress; Kanshiramji took the plunge and formed a complete political wing, Bahujan Samaj Party. Inevitably, this caused major strains in BAMCEF ranks. After much deliberation Kanshiramji announced that he was no longer willing to work for any organisation other than the BSP. It was in his scheme of thinking to go all out for his mission of capturing the power leaving behind all other priorities he set before; it saw the split of BAMCEF in year 1986.
He put in a solid organizational work and his newly formed party made headway in Punjab, Kanshiram’s home State. He with marginal success in Punjab marched ahead with his plan to wean the Chamars of Uttar Pradesh from Congress. There he succeeded but gradually. The formal entry of his party into Uttar Pradesh was in a by-election in 1985 for the Lok Sabha seat of Bijinor, in which its candidate was Mayawati. She later went on becoming the president of the BSP and Chief Minister of the state, mainly the reward of her political guts, solid organizational work and inherent ability to adopt and execute political moves of Kanshiramji. Mayawati had made contact with Kanshi Ram in 1977 while she was a student, and had gradually been drawn into his organisation. He was instrumental in accelerating the downslide of congress in the state. He with his staunch supporters initially worked out on weaning Chamars from the congress all across the state. He worked out the mathematics of the numbers of the Chamars spread all across the state and how this could be utilized for winning the candidate of the BSP, if the ticket was given to other community’s candidate. First of all he had won the confidence of the Chamars and instilled the divine value of being the follower of the BSP and trained them to understand to put the party’s interest above everything else. His policy worked. He had then gradually spread the wing of his party to accommodate OBCs, Kurmis, Muslims, Tribes, Yadav, etc. in its fold. The way Kanshiramji brought various communities in the party’s fold to the point that its candidate was offered a chief ministerial position was the Kanshiramji effect. It came to the power four times in a decade of its formulations was something very mind-boggling for the opponents.
Kanshiramji and Mayawati the invincible duo worked out and executed number of policies that would increase their party base whenever they came in to power. They formed the government with all once the opponent parties that includes congress, BJP, SP, etc. The formed the government and brought down at will when they found it was engaging in the activities that would harms the party’s interests. Each time when they came into power they very smartly calculated how much time that they had in this term or how long their government would last long, so accordingly they were making polices and prioritize them. And due to this it never yielded to the wishes of the partner that would dilute or pollute the policy work of the BSP. They never feared elections. Together they formulated the novel winning strategies whenever the state went in for poll. It then became the greatest virtue of the BSP. Kanshiramji even worked out the ‘accessibility’ level when their government came in to power, in order to avoid entraining unnecessary favors. Now he was ready to take his political mission in other state such as AP, TN, Punjab, MP, Kerla, WB, etc. There he did not meet with the expected outcome but he asked his party to persist with efforts in hope of meeting success there. Thus this man proved a point of his pragmatic politics that the Underclass could reach at center of power if they cast a heavy blow on the present Brahminwadi system, unitedly.
As all the avenues of advance are closed to the Underclass in the field of agriculture, trade, commerce and industry almost all the educated persons from these communities are trapped in Govt. services, which too are diminishing largely due to privatization. In order to take on the challenges hurled by the various societal, cultural and Industrial changes we need to build our capacities. But inherent timidity, cowardice, selfishness and lack of desire for Social Service to our own creed of many amongst underclass have made us exceptionally useless to the general mass of the oppressed Indians. And here there is urgent need of raising once sensitivity towards the fellow brothers. Well still in the ageless darkness there is ray of hope who feel deeply agitated about the miserable existence of their brethren. Kanshiramji is one such great fellow who fought for better tomorrow and inspired many to make the divine difference.
In every sense Kanshiramji is the par excellence pragmatic edge of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who not only shown the way to the underclass but actually led them to the centre stage of governing council without playing a second fiddle to the so called mainstream political parties. His message was loud and clear ‘If engaged in a political bargain do it in such a way that it would reap a bumper harvest of opportunities for the suppressed Bahujan community, as a whole and not for individuals who will remain loyal servant and burdened cattle of mainstream political parties’. He remarkably succeeded in instilling the message that the Bahujan have to be taken seriously rather than viewed as a vote bank to be exploited by their social superiors. It was as if the world could stand on its head, so that the divine bottom will rule over the self-styled top.
IT was indeed not an easy task to draw the curves of political novelties on the graph paper of the Indian politics which was dominated by the curves of might, money and social superiority of the Uppercaste. But the man was political mathematician of highest degree. He coordinated his points of political moves well beyond imagination and drew them together that took the shape of considerable pragmatic value and scored exceptional points.
So to offer a fitting tribute to the giant the BSP has decided to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Kanshiramji as a ‘Bahujan Diwas’. And why not the man who fought day and night for the aspirations of the suppressed Bahujan less than this meant undermining the efforts the man had taken for achieving impossible feat. The man who kindled the aspirations and nurtured ambitions in the Bahujan, so to offer a tribute for the man of his height it calls for a gigantic celebration. So every true aspirants affiliated to the welfare of Bahujan should without fail celebrate the ‘Bahujan Diwas’ for the generations to come. His politics was the radical and assertive but also ruthlessly pragmatic. So in a true sense even after his death the progress the BSP is doing is mainly because the sharp pragmatic edge of the party is still intact. He may not be with us but his ideology is still helping the party covers the milestones of success on the roads of Indian politics which are mired with the complexities and paradoxes. Long live ‘Bahujan Diwas’!
1. Untouchable politics and politicians since 1956 by Oliver Mendelsohn and Marika Vicziany, Ben Cahoon
2. Vivek Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
3. Various information and references searched on Google Search Engine.
4. And numerous written literature on Kanshiramji and Mayawatiji.
Sukh ka Kya hai Paryay?
Namo Buddhay, Namo Dhammay, Namo Sanghay.