Pandita asked the panelist about the importance of Dalit history and heroes in politics, Badri Narayan explained how the BJP won the UP elections through this tactic.
“We observe that since 2000, the RSS works in rural UP with the Dalits in the field of education, health and dignity. Dignity now comes with history and gives Dalits pride in their identity. The Dalits had no heroes in the mainstream that RSS worked on by telling stories. This had a great impact later on, which the BJP used in making Dalits aware of the beneficiaries. So with history, Dalits became proud of their identity and a political party used it and won elections,” Badri said.
Asked about the RSS approach and the changing aspirations of young Dalits, Guru Prakash replied that earlier Dalit aspirations were just to ‘co-diner’ and ‘co-bathe’, but times have changed.
“Now our young people want power, property and dignity. Our fight is not only symbolic but representational. People who have done social justice politics – Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh yadav, Stalin are confined to their own families. Mayawati started on a positive note but where does the second generation of Dalit leaders stand? We need to talk about the aspirations of Dalits by linking them to history and identity,” Paswan said.
Asked whether the Dalit aspiration also had an impact on the elections, Badri replied that the content of the aspiration is the same, but the form has been changed.
He explained how Mayawati could not understand the changing Dalit narrative in UP but RSS seized the opportunity. “A Dalit’s aspiration may be to become a pastor, but it may also be to build his own temple. In UP, BJP built a temple of Sabri and local deities of Dalits who filled them with pride and helped BJP. Mayawati was able to secure the vote of some prominent Dalit communities in the UP, but the other voters supported the BJP,” Badri said. The session concluded on the note that there was an urgent need to bring Dalit personalities into public forums to remember their contribution to the nation.