'There's space for every party that works for dalit emancipation'
Avijit Ghosh, TNN | Jan 18, 2012, 12.00AM IST
Academic and political analyst Badri Narayan is professor of social
and cultural anthro-pology at the G B Pant Social Science Institute,
Allahabad. His latest book explores the making of `the dalit public`
in northern India, travelling through Uttar Pradesh of the 1950s to
the present. Speaking with Avijit Ghosh , Narayan discussed his
current research, UP chief minister Mayawati`s past performance - and
the state`s forthcoming elections:
What does your latest study discuss?
My new book is about the process of the politicisation of dalits in UP
post-Independence. It reveals that members of the dalit public which
emerged had no fixed political choice in electoral democratic
politics, but they linked with policies, slogans and symbols created
by various political parties for their emancipation. Thus, this
political public developed with multiple choices - it depends on
political parties how they link with the desires of the dalits. There
is space for every party that can work for their betterment and
Does dalit politics imitate methods used by upper castes or does it
break away from these?
Although dalit politics in UP developed its own methods of
mobi-lisation and creating pressure in the democratic system for
deve-lopment, dalits also co-opted methods adopted by upper castes.
This is not pure politics that developed in isolation. It is
interactive and hybrid, imitating several methods of those they are
struggling against. Kanshi Ram, who was often branded as an
opportunist, defended himself by saying there`s nothing wrong if
dalits use the opportunism used by Brahmins for their own progress.
Speaking of progress, what do you think the BSP`s chances in the
forthcoming UP assembly elections are?
The BSP will decline because social alliances formed in the last
elections have been diluted. The distance between Mayawati and people
has increased - this was earlier the lifeline of BSP politics. Also,
there`s inefficient governance, allegations of corruption and
But will Mayawati gain from her announcement of dividing UP into four
Mayawati used this as a masterstroke hurriedly for this election - but
the demand for separate states was never a mass demand, rather that of
elites in those regions. This will not be beneficial in these
Momentary decisions aside, what were the highs and lows of Mayawati`s
stint as chief minister?
During Mayawati`s reign, the mafias of the state were under control
but corruption increased several fold. Several scams like NRHM and
NREGA, in which many ministers were involved, took place. Alongside,
there were incidents of bloodshed during land acquisitions but no
industrialisation or deve-lopment took place in the state.
Against this backdrop, how would you evaluate Mayawati`s moves against
The throwing out of ministers by Mayawati will have a negative effect
- it confirms notions that corruption was prevalent during her tenure.
The corrupt MLAs were associated with departments directly responsible
for delivering public services. Their expulsion manifests corruption
was prevalent in these areas.
However, Mayawati`s stra-tegy of not giving tickets to corrupt MLAs
may have a positive impact too on the minds of people in those
constituencies. People disappointed with the performance of corrupt
MLAs will now have fresh hopes that new faces will come up who will
work for their betterment.
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