Sunday, July 11, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Now, Congress launches new set of Dalit icons

Now, Congress launches new set of Dalit icons
Manjari Mishra, TNN, Jul 11, 2010, 01.55am IST

LUCKNOW: Fight for dalit vote-share takes a dramatic turn as UP
Congress launches a new set of homegrown Dalit icons. The party think
tank delved deep into archives and government records to raise a force
of forgotten Dalit OBC and Most Backward Caste (MBC) local heroes from
55 districts in the state to offer a stiff competition to their better
known counterparts showcased by rival BSP.

The list of moth-balled celebrities would come handy in striking an
emotional cord with the electorate in the chosen pockets where
Congress hopes to identify, trace and publicly honour their

Names like Lakhan Chamar, Chchappan Ahir and Phulva Kurmi, whose
'shobha yatras' were taken out in Kanpur on June 27, definitely don't
strike a chord. But each, says Amresh Mishra, the convener of the UPCC
Anti-Communal Cell, has a history of sacrifices. Each of the three
played a crucial role in engaging British forces in Kanpur on June 27
and July 21, 1957 as per the records.

If Agra witnessed a Bhallu Dalit and Baijoo Chamar Yatra on July 5,
Lucknow was a Chinhat Vijay Yatra to commemorate the role of Veera
Pasi and Uda Devi, the Pasi icons, on June 30. Congressmen also hunted
out the descendent of Ganga Baran Pasi who was beheaded by British
near what is now known as the Sarkata Nullah in Lucknow. Even Meerut
woke up to the paeans sung to the exploits of Kadam Singh Gujjar, a
local celebrity none remembers or talks about.

The plan is to pick up two to five icons from the 55 districts, says
Mishra. The cell incident has identified 91 little-known freedom
fighters and 52 out of the lot belong to the Dalit and MBC slot which
gave the party the idea to capitalise on the issue and use the
"their-dalit-versus-our-dalit dual" as an effective bait to 60 percent
votebank comprising the two segments.

And if poaching on their terrain leads to annoying the BSP and SP
supremo, Congressmen are not concerned. So Etawah will soon
commemorate the valorous deeds of Bhondu Singh Ahir, a trusted
lieutenant in the army of the erstwhile ruler and Maya's home turf
Ambedkarnagar will wake up to the glory of Sattu Chamar - rediscovered
by the Congress. The yatras convened by the 'Sajhi Virasat aur Sajhi
Shahadat Abhiyan' expected to conclude on May 2011, Mishra hopes will
give to UP heroes their rightful place.

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