HC Order Banning Caste Rallies Creates A Furore Statistics indicate without backward castes’ support UP politics cannot move forward
The Allahabad High Court order banning caste-based rallies in Uttar Pradesh seems to have caught all the political parties off guard. The order has hit the very base of politics in the state which is deep rooted in caste. With nearly half the state population belonging to the backwards, approximately 18 per cent Dalits, 4 per cent upper castes and 17 per cent Muslims, life revolves in the state around caste equations.
It was on the basis of this caste percentage that Dr Ram Manohar Lohia had demanded 60 per cent reservation for Muslims, backward classes and SCs/STs way back in the fifties.
It was again the caste factor that motivated Kashiram to set up BS4 which later became Bahujan Samaj Party. It was in Kashiram’s time that the slogan ‘Tilak, tarazu aur talwar; inko maaro joote chaar’ was coined. The low caste and the downtrodden were instigated, motivated to take up cudgels against the upper caste which have been dominating and exploiting them for centuries. The low castes were urged to create their political identity.
Decades later his successor Mayawati, who rode to power on Dalit votes, created a social engineering formula and brought Brahmins, Muslims and Dalits on one platform. Her plan worked, as Mayawati created history and returned as UP Chief Minister for the third time with a thumping majority in 2007. Of course, the slogan was discarded with immediate effect.
It was also the caste equations that made Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party supremo and a backward, realise the importance of caste and religion. Apart from the caste card, he also played the religion card and earned for himself the title of Maulana Mulayam overnight turning a messiah of the minority.
Good in mathematics these smart politicians have derived caste formulas, which suited their needs. Like, for instance, Muluyam’s calculation goes something like this: Backwards (52) + Muslims (17) + others. While for Mayawati’s absolute victory was based on her social engineering formula—Dalits (18)+ Muslims (17)+ upper caste (4)+ Backwards—spells success.
Mayawati succeeded in taking up the reigns of power from the BJP through this formula. The upper caste had always clung to BJP but Mayawati succeeded in breaking this practise. With Maya came a blatant display of caste. She made the obvious more clear. It seemed that the thought of downtrodden gaining power seemed so impossible that just before the elections when Mayawati came to power for the first time an Urdu newspaper had commented ‘Jinhey zameen pey chalney ka bhi shaoor na tha, who aaj yeh kahtey hain aasma leygay’ (Those who did not even have the grace to walk on the earth are today laying claim to the skies). With her victory it became an accepted practise to flaunt one’s caste. Even national parties like the Congress and the BJP followed in caste politics, but of course to a much lesser degree then the BSP and SP.
Thus, the HC order issued by a double bench of Justices Umanath Singh and Mahendra Dayal, on the
public interest litigation filed by lawyer Motilal Yadav says “Caste-based political meetings and rallies
are against the Constitutional norms,” came as a God sent for the commonman.
Yadav had in his PIL alleged that on July 7, the Bahujan Samaj Party held the mega Brahmin maha sammelan in Lucknow to garner votes for the upcoming general elections. This he said was totally against the spirit of the Constitution. The BSP has just in the last two months organised 40 Brahmin rallies in the state. The petitioner submitted that it was disturbing that there has in the recent time been a spurt of caste-based political rallies in Uttar Pradesh. He said that political parties were organising caste-based rallies in the name of different castes like Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya etc. This he said was wearing out the social fabric and making a mockery of caste and religion.
As expected the worst hit by the HC order is definitely Mayawati and that is why while the other politicians were guarded and discreet in making statements against the Allahabad High Court interim order, of July, Mayawati choose to speak out. She did not mince words in expressing her displeasure at the order, asserting that caste is an integral part of our entire Indian social fabric and that we cannot separate it from our system. Addressing scribes at the BSP office Mayawati, said that BSP was not doing caste politics through these rallies but was in fact trying to create a social harmony.
The BSP held 40 Brahmin conferences in May-June 2013. The major Brahmin rally was held in Lucknow on July 7, which was addressed by Ms Mayawati.
The BSP also held a series of what it calls Muslim Bhaichara conferences.
The ruling Samajwadi Party in the State held a ‘Backward Class Mahasammelan’ in Meerut on July 8. The party had also organised a Muslims’ conference and a Brahmin sammelan in the name of Baudhik (intellectual) meet recently.
She asserted that caste is an integral part of our society and that there cannot be any politics without caste. Mayawati made it clear that though BSP respects the Court order, it would hold such caste-based rallies under the banner of ‘Sarva Samaj Sadbhawna’ (all-caste conventions). She said that her party will continue “this campaign until the unequal system based on caste gets changed for better and results in a samtamulak samaj (egalitarian society). She said her party was continuing the campaign started by Scheduled Caste leaders like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Narayana Guru and BR Ambedkar for an egalitarian society.
In her inimitable style, she also came down on organisations which are doing politics of religion and demanded that the Union government ban the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal which do politics of caste and religion openly. Samajwadi party supremo, Muluyam Singh Yadav played his cards better. While welcoming the move, Mulayam said that his party never induges in caste politics and that he personally does not approve caste-based politics. He said that he has only once attended a Brahmin sammellan. Matching his words with action he immediately orderd all caste based party units to be dissolved with immediate effect.
Both the national political parties like the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, have welcomed the order and said that they did not organise caste rallies.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, senior leader of Congress in state welcomed the ban and said that it will prove beneficial for the nation in the long run. She blamed the regional parties who are tryng to lure the peope to unite on the basis of caste. She said that the Congress never indulges in such politics of caste.
The BJP Thursday welcomed the decision of Allahabad High Court and said that the BJP does not mobilise people in the name of caste.
“We do not hold caste rallies. We consider the whole country as one. We welcome the decision,” state BJP chief, Laxmikant Bajpai told Uday India here in response to a query about the court decision. He said the party will study the judgment. However Mr Bajpai has reacted sharply to Mayawati’s demand of banning the RSS and VHP.
“Mayawati is rattled at the prospects of her party being reduced to being an also-ran in Uttar Pradesh. Hence she is making such wild demands,” said Bajpai adding that it was her way of polarising minority votes.
By Kulsum Mustafa from Lucknow