Something remarkable is unfolding in Gujarat

Something remarkable is unfolding in Gujarat, the very state of Gandhi, the imprisoner of Dalits in Hinduism and his long-term, logical conclusion Modi of today, that leaves everybody, including the author of these lines, in happy surprise.

The most striking single thing about this movement is also unprecedented in recent times, this struggle is taking on both Hinduism and Hindutva at once, not in theory or slogans but in its concrete demands and on-the-ground mobilisation. Another wonderful thing about this agitation is that it is a combination of the forces of the Dalits, Bahujans, Muslims and Leftists.

Now, the trouble for the ruling (Hindu) Nazist party and its supporters in the wake of this Dalit movement and its sure and already palpable impact all across the country is very clear. Modi’s political inventions, going beyond, even against, the standard and time-tested methods of Sangh Parivar surely have met a deadlock now, we can even say Modi’s innovations have backfired. Instead of Sangh’s usual methods of planning and careful orchestration of atrocities, Modi tried his luck in a bold strategy of providing a room for local initiatives in atrocities, which the regime at every level, from the local police station to the union cabinet, not to speak of media manuevers, would defend and protect.

However, it is not easy for Modi to fall back on the well-established RSS methods of planned and coordinated atrocities and murders. The damage has been done. All the patient work put in by Sangh Parivar outfits for many decades to patiently convince their cadre to have inclusive tolerance for Dalits now stands once again demolished by its own Modi’s recklessness.

Modi, who hopes to have a nation of mass murderers and nuclear war-mongers, without even any welfare and seems not to have any trouble yet with such fantastic policy, also wants to crowd source Hindutva, create some kind of free-for-all Hindu fascism. Good that he didn’t notice earlier that if there is no steering and monitoring body like RSS, the regime- prompted, protected violence in the name of Hindus will take not much time to turn into caste violence. Hindu Nation is, like class struggle, is a myth in every sense of the word. Caste is real. It did not take much time in Gujarat, where the construction of the unified Hindu identity, trumping caste divisions, has been the most successful and solid, its traditional dalit opposition is the weakest both in numbers and in terms of cultural autonomy, to turn to Dalits after silencing and subduing the Muslims and Christians.

While Sangh Parivar has its well-developed conceptual resources and organisational practices to still handle this crisis, the same cannot be said about the official Hindu Left and the Dalit middle ‘classes’ (actually, the relatively advanced, mostly employee-stratum, Reservations-monopolizing single Dalit castes in their respective provinces)!

Having accustomed to lecturing the Dalit movements of all stripes to focus on ‘real’ issues like economic resources, the Hindu Left will now have to decide what to do with a mass mobilisation that demands land as much as dignified employment, two revolutionary demands, in the same breath.

Relatively well-off sections among the urban educated Dalits, who are used to the easy method of invoking the pain of others (manual scavenging and other degrading forms of obligatory work, caste atrocities, especially in the enclaves where being a Dalit is as much an advantage as a drawback, with their greedy and narrow dream of keeping away the other victims of Hindutva such as Muslims and Christians, and other opponents of Hindutva such as Leftists and Tribals, will now have to decide for themselves if they are ready to throw in their lot with fighting Gujarati Dalits and their leftist and Muslim supporters.


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Chittibabu Padavala Written by:

Chittibabu Padavala is a Dalit Activist and Journalist

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