Dalits come out against Anna Hazare's fast
Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN | Aug 24, 2011, 02.21AM IST
NEW DELHI: Contrary to the general enthusiasm over Anna Hazare's fast
over Lokpal bill, the dalits have struck a divergent note, warning
that the government should not accept the Gandhian's demand against
parliamentary processes, saying it would set a dangerous trend and
make backward classes vulnerable.
With the war of wits between Hazare's camp and the Centre entering a
decisive phase, the unease felt by the dalit groups since the Gandhian
sat on fast spilt out in the open.
Dalit activist Udit Raj, who was denied permission for a rally against
Hazare, said the protestors' demand to "sidestep" the constitutional
process was a threat to democracy. He said his group would write a
more caste-wise inclusive 'Bahujan Lokpal bill" and send it to
Parliament for consideration.
Raj's attack only reflected the general wariness among backward
classes contrary to across-the-social-divide resentment against graft.
Dalit intellectuals said the possibility of mass mobilisation forcing
a "set of solutions" on the Centre against constitutional processes
raised fears that affirmative action could be a victim of similar
According to the activists, a precedent of government bowing to street
power on the corruption issue could put their position in danger
because dominant social sections were just as opposed to job and
educational reservation. Memories of the stir against OBC reservation
starting from Mandal Commission in the 1990s to education quota in
UPA-1 are fresh in their minds.
Vivek Kumar, sociologist in JNU, said, "Crowds don't lend legitimacy
to any cause. That is a dangerous argument."
Hazare cuts an elderly Gandhian figure but it has not deterred dalits
from dissenting because of their touchy relationship with the
Constitution delivered by their first icon, B R Ambedkar. The dalits
argue that affirmative action survived for six decades despite
pan-Indian 'savarna' anger because of constitutional safeguards. Any
indication that basic provisions of the statute could be reopened
would sound the death knell for SC quota in jobs and education, they
Kumar said, "If dalits have achieved anything, if you see any
diversity today, it is because of the Constitution, Parliament and
bureaucracy. You cannot discredit the Constitution." Dalit writer
Chandrabhan Prasad explained, "SCs see everyone questioning
parliamentary process as villain. The scepticism started the day he
questioned the integrity of electoral politics."
Common Concern, a group of dalit intellectuals, met on Tuesday and
expressed opposition to corruption in sociological terms. "Dalits face
corruption not from bureaucracy but from civil society where caste
system is the biggest oppressor. And this civil society wants to
overturn the Constitution which has given us respite from caste
system," was its refrain.
The criticism told when Hazare on Tuesday dwelt on problems of SCs/STs
in his address but said his village Ralegaon Siddhi presented a
picture of social brotherhood.
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