Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Over the last few years we have been seeing a cynical game being played with increasing enthusiasm by all kinds of politicians and organisations. People who were never the admirers of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar in his life or later, and have been hostile to his fundamental philosophy of “annihilation of caste”, are today insincerely and cunningly chanting his name to garner support of Dalits in elections.
The RSS, its political wing BJP and student wing ABVP, are ahead of everyone in this dishonest game. Once again, they have declared of season of dishonest declaration of love for Dr Ambedkar and his cause of Dalit emancipation. We can expect to see pictures of men of all kinds of Sangh leaders garlanding the statues of a bespectacled Dr Ambedkar in blue suit and red tie with a copy of the Constitution of India in his hand.
The Sangh people doing this dishonest ritual are some of the staunchest followers of Manu and his book of law, Manusmriti, that treats Dalits worse than animals. A lot of caste atrocities are traced to it. When Dr Ambedkar wrote his classic work Annihilation of Caste he emphatically and unequivocally wanted the end of it, lock, stock and barrel. This also meant the end of Manusmriti, a stance exemplified by the burning of Manusmriti copies ritually.
However, the Sangh neither wants to discard Manusmriti as Dr Ambedkar wanted or millions upon millions of his followers demand even today, nor to annihilate caste. In fact, the caste hierarchy is so deep-rooted in society that even politics, whether of the left, right or centre, cannot be conducted in India without factoring in caste. Strangely, even Mahatma Gandhi said that the annihilation of caste would mean annihilation of Hindu religion.
In a situation like this, celebrations of Ambedkar Jayanti by Saghis, and even some other groups, is not convincing. Nobody can claim the heritage of Dr Ambedkar without discarding casteist and Mauwadi beliefs and practices. Now that the RSS is trying to insincerely appropriate Babasaheb’s legacy without discarding caste and Manusmriti it is theorising that annihilation of caste (as insisted upon by Babasaheb) is not required. What is needed, according to the Sangh, is samrasta (harmony) between castes. In other words, Dalits must keep on doing what they have been doing for thousands of years and Brahmins must be doing what they have been doing, without disturbing the hierarchy and traditional caste roles.
Naturally, the Dalits are not convinced with this logic. To counter this, instead of correcting the caste injustices, the RSS and its different wings are trying to paint Muslims as common enemy to distract Dalits from their demands of right to equality. They have gone to the extent of publishing books in which (hold your breath) they are claiming that caste was created not by Hindus several thousand years ago, but by Muslims who came much later and there is no mention of caste in their religious scriptures. Of course, people (both Muslim and Dalits) have refuted this malicious lie in well-documented writings showing the roots of caste in Hindu scripture and society. They have shown that even Shri Ramji killed a Dalit boy, Shambuk, as a punishment for entering the Brahminical domain of study and worship. Even Dr Ambedkar has taken note of it. The cutting of the thumb of a low-caste archer, Eklavya, for trying to use weapon like a Chhatriya at the time of Mahabharata (Shri Krishnaji’s time) is yet another example of caste enforcement since early Hinduism, as taken note of by most scholars. Muslims, who came centuries later on the scene, have no role to play in it.
Still the RSS has been trying to convince Dalits that their sad condition can be attributed to Muslims. Through writing, through speeches, conspiratorial whispers and blatant propaganda they have been trying to spread this falsehood. They did this in Muzaffarnagar killings and in Pratapgarh in UP by pitting Dalits against Muslim through conspiracy.
The Indian Express reported in 2014 a sly mischievous remark of Amit Shah in a Dalit home in UP. Without provocation or prior reference, Shah told the Dalit family “Mahesh ka haq Mahmood ko diya jaye yeh BJP nahin bardasht karegi.” That remark gave the false impression that non-BJP parties would give away Mahesh’s (Dalits’) job reservation to Muslims, which BJP will not allow. They took the same line in Bihar also as Lalu and Nitish clarified that they had no scheme for reservation for Muslims.
This is time for both Dalits and Muslims to be alert about this mischief and demand that the country be run on the lines of the august Constitution of India, the foremost among its framers was Babasaheb, of course. It is also interesting to note that when the Constitution of India was adopted, the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, wrote that the country did not need any Constitution other than Manusmriti. We must also remember that these groups maligned Babasaheb for replacing Manusmriti with the Constitution of India.
We have to be cautious and remember Babasaheb who had warned that caste would not be eliminated and Dalits would have to think over it seriously. Finally, we also must remember that Islam and Muslims have no relationship with it.