From: Vidya Bhushan Rawat <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wed, 26 Sep 2012 07:36:48
Subject: Hindutva's mischief to belittle Ambedkar
Converting Mischief into political history
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
A book written by a former minister in NDA government Mr Sanjay Paswan, on Babu Jagjivan Ram portraying him as a great 'Nationalist' has a hidden agenda of denigrating Ambedkar. Some of the 'revelations' are mischievous and absolutely farcical and need to be countered. They are repetition of what Arun Shourie wrote long back in his book on Ambedkar.
A Dalit leader belonging to Hindutva family has come out with a book named 'Rastranistha Babuji' dedicated to late leader Babu Jagjivan Ram who held important positions in Congress Party and was definitely a prime ministerial material and could not reach that position because of various acts of manipulations by political leaders during Janata Party regime. Jagjivan Ram was the tallest Dalit leader of the Congress Party and was considered to be a very efficient administrator and a very trusted colleague of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. During the Janata Party regime he fell to the political one-upmanship of diverse ambitious political leaders. Frustrated and disgusted, he remarked,' In this country, a Chamar can never be the prime minister'. There is another well-known fact about Babuji, as he was respectfully addressed as that he was a staunch Gandhian but has to face the humiliation by the champion of Gandhiism. It was alleged that Mr Kamlapati Tripathi got the statue of Gandhi washed from Gangajal after Jagjivan Ram garlanded it in a ceremony. Whatever these reports are, the fact is that he was a very prominent Congress leader during his life time and his demise saw the sharp decline of Dalits support for the Congress Party.
There is another side of Babu Jagjivan Ram which actually sidelined his good work also as the modern educated Dalit always considered him as a stooge of the power politics of Congress party who used his services and name against Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar. It is a fact that Congress used every bit of Jagjivan Ram to belittle the contribution of Dr Ambedkar but today Ambedkar has reached to such a height and definitely not because of any government effort but because the seed that he sew have now turned into big plants and trees. Ambedkar's popularity is envious to everyone in our political spectrum including that to the family of Babu Jagjivan Ram as he remain completed marginalized today and except for Meera Kumar, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, there are not many takers of Babuji's vision for 'Harijans'. Actually, modern enlightened followers of Baba Saheb Ambedkar cannot be relegated to being a Harijan and that is why the ideological framework of Babu Jagjivan Ram has become completely irrelevant for them. The silent revolution of Ambedkarism in India has strengthened democracy, challenged brahmanical mainstream and never accepted birth based inequality. Today, that enlightenment has made Babu Jagjivan Ram virtually redundant for most of those who believe in a democratic revolution unleashed by Ambedkar's path breaking philosophy of life.
Unlike Dr Ambedkar, Babuji wanted Dalits to be part of Hinduism and the system as he felt that caste is not really originate from Hinduism and that it is our duty to change it. Babu Jagjivan Ram did not really challenge the dominance of brahmanical system. Instead, he was part of it and in fact was always elected to Lok Sabha from Sasaram in Bihar, from massive upper caste support. How could a person survive in the polity without upper caste support? Jagjivan Ram never ever challenged the religious hegemony of the upper elite upper caste despite humiliation and hence today after many years, the brahmanical elite are now 'finding' importance of Babuji so he is being portrayed as 'Rastranishta' or 'nationalist'. One does not know why are these terms used for particular people or what do these terminologies want to communicate to us. If Babuji only was nationalist then what are others?
There is no doubt that Babu Jagjivan Ram needs a better assessment from all of us. He perhaps never got his due from any one. In the new era of Dalit assertion, Babuji was merely a protector of 'Harijans' and with the advent of Kanshi Ram, a new aggressive Dalit was born who challenged the very word 'Harijan' which is still being used in many parts of the country despite openly proscribed by the Ministry of Social Justice, Government of India. Dr Ambedkar whose writings and understanding was an anathema for mainstream political parties and writers actually became 'pratahsmaraniya' for even the Hindutva groups. Yet, this was a compulsion because of the enormous influence of Dr Ambedkar on the lives of 160 million Dalits in India. Now, the forces of Hindutva work in multiplicity with one agenda to coopt the ideology if you are unable to bend them. The other way is to dengrate him through getting these issues raised by 'Dalits' themselves so that they do not get directly accused of maligning him. In the case of Arun Shourie, people targeted him but Sanjay Paswan, the BJP's Dalit face write about Jagjivan Ram and then denigrate Ambedkar raises this important question as who is critiquing Ambedkar and what is the hidden agenda behind this. Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar remained the tallest of the icons of the Dalit history even though he may not be the only one in a history which has Carvak, Buddha, Kabir, Nanak, Ravidas and Phule before him. Now, Ambedkar is accepted yet with heavy heart and hence these forces continue to promote writings on Ambedkar by others to belittle his contribution to India.
In the early 1990s, Hindutva protagonist Arun Shourie came out with a book named as 'Worshipping the False God' and ridiculing Ambedkar's work. Shourie went on the extent terming Ambedkar as an agent of British who was created to counter Gandhi and spoil freedom of India. Shourie quoted Ambedkar on Gandhi and condemned him for his views on Gandhi particularly on caste and religion. Arun Shourie thought that he was 'revealing' new to Indians but those of us who have read dr Ambedkar well knew what Baba Saheb Ambedkar stood for. Shourie blamed Ambedkar for supporting legendary humanist leader M.N.Roy when he was labor minister in Viceroy's Council. Roy got Rs 13,000/- as a subscription for a magazine that he was running and Ambedkar thought it was important to support antiwar effort. Roy has termed Gandhism as cultural fascism and said that Hindu cultural Fascism would be more dangerous than the German Fascism. Arun Shourie said that M.N.Roy was again played in the hands of British and worked against India's freedom hence both Ambedkar and Roy were anti national.
Interestingly, Shourie never questioned Congress Party and how it was born with the sole objective of helping the Hindus. It was a party formed by a British and belonged to the upper elite of Indian society, former Rajas and Maharajas. Shourie rarely questioned that Gandhi who he admired so much was not killed by the Dalits or follower of Ambedkar but by a pure Maharastrian Brahmin. He wanted to make us believe that Ambedkar is lionized by various interest groups and that he could not win a single election from Maharastra. Yes, that was a fact that Dr Ambedkar could not win an election from Maharastra and that was the biggest betrayal of Poona Pact. All the Hindus joined hands in defeating Ambedkar and the reality is that except from the Mahars, the other Dalit communities too were used by Congress against Dr Ambedkar. Ambedkar does not need a certificate from Shourie or Hindutva's dishonest intellectuals for his popularity in India and recent polls have suggested that he remain unchallenged in that front too.
Arun Shourie that time used another anecdote which has no written value. He used a fictitious diary allegedly written by Indrani Ram wife of Jagjivan Ram that Ambedkar requested Babuji to have a word with Nehru to put him in the cabinet. Now, this is nothing but a deliberate effort to denigrate Ambedkar for what was the status of Babu Jagjivan Ram in the congress that point of time when Ambedkar saved life of Gandhi after the Poona Pact in 1935. Dr Ambedkar had already been in the Viceroy's council and went to round table conference to represent the cases of untouchables in London. Jagjivan Ram was a non-entity that time when the Constituent Assembly entrusted Dr Ambedkar to draft the constitution of India. A man who was virtually unanimously elected to preside over the drafting committee was not that small to go to Jagjivan Ram begging for a cabinet birth in Nehru's cabinet. In fact, Nehru has promised to give Dr Ambedkar a Ministry of his choice which was Planning, Finance or Labour but unfortunately, that was not given. The Hindu Code Bill that he drafted so laboriously was not passed in its original form and was one of the reasons of Baba Saheb Ambedkar's resignation from Nehru's cabinet.
Ambedkar never compromised with his self-respect and dignity as he was never power hungry. He was a versatile personality and his understanding of subject was well known. The constituent Assembly recognized that and it is available in various debates in the constituent assembly and how he responded to them.
It is sad that a former Minister in BJP government who happen to be a Dalit from Bihar in his effort to create a counter force of Jagjivan Ram, used same fictitious diary of Indrani Ram in his 'revelation' that Babu was such a great personality who recommended Dr Ambedkar's name for Nehru's cabinet.
Babu Jagjivan Ram has long been used by the upper castes to denigrate Dr Ambedkar and his cultural movement. It is the contribution of Dr Ambedkar's cultural renaissance that Dalits today are challenging power elite of the country and are living a life of dignity by following Ambedkar's path of Navayana. As Ambedkar give a new identity that challenges the status-quoist forces, poor Harijans, follower of brahmanical Hinduism, will try to denigrate him by these superfluous allegation. Ambedkar is not a small name to be affected by such frivolous charges by those who have did nothing culturally. It is shameful that the greatest emancipator of the most marginalized in India is facing such denigration from one among those who claim to be marginalized. The fact is those who claim to be marginalized and yet part of the greater design of brahmanical Hinduism, will never do justice to the identity and assertion of Dalits. They will remain follower of the system which reduced them to merely poor 'Harijans'. Ambedkar that way will always remain as a liberator of millions of people in India for his forthrightness as he would have built a huge career in law and academia only. If he was corrupted and running after power, he would have easily done that with Nehru, Gandhi and many others but that was not his cup of tea. A man of ideas and change, for him, the liberation and emancipation of his people was the most important. Sad, that such writings are now being legitimized in the name of research which tries to belittle the personality of Dr Ambedkar. Such condemnable attempts are nothing but trying to distort the history for their own political agenda.
It was Jagjivan Ram who remained with power most of his life and not Ambedkar. Ambedkar is remembered not because he was our law maker but because he fought against an exploitative social order and gave new way of life to people of India which Babuji could only tried to stop. History cannot judge Jagjivan Ram as a revolutionary against caste oppression but as part of that system which perpetuated those atrocities on us. Sanjay Paswan's Hindutva agenda to denigrate Dr Ambedkar will not succeed. There is nothing wrong in critiquing Ambedkar but political mischief cannot be termed as facts need to be countered.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
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