Before I justify the title, let us divulge slightly into what Dalits mean for Hinduism and for the country (Maharashtra in particular). It goes without saying that Dalits are an important constituent and an integral part of Hinduism. Dr. B R Ambedkar, who scripted our constitution, by which we all abide, is no less than a deity for Dalits. He is a revered figure for all those feeling oppressed in the country. So, when Prakash Ambedkar, Babasaheb’s grandson shares stage with ‘Bharat tere tukde honge gang’, it should be upsetting and a reason to worry. He could have easily avoided being seen in the same frame as Khalid at the Koregaon event.
Despite the best efforts of PM Modi to bring Dalits into the mainstream, the anti-India forces don’t leave any stone unturned to build a perception that his is a fascist, casteist and a communal regime. The nomination of Shri Ramnath Kovind for the president’s post was seen as a masterstroke by Modi. The opposition was actually rattled at that juncture as they had to find a suitable Dalit candidate to compete with Kovindji. Modi also appeared to be firmly in grip of things in the running up to the Gujarat elections. Though the Congress lost it, it succeeded in giving birth to a young so called Dalit leader like Jignesh Mevani in the course of the electoral battle. That is when the momentum seemed to shift.
The insulting remarks made by Jignesh against the PM during a Television debate sparked a row. Though the BJP spokesperson and its cadres protested, there was hardly any reporting of Dalits protesting against this newly born leader. Does that mean Dalits identify more with the likes of Mevani? Or the media just ignored any such protests?
In the backdrop of the recent fire rage incident in the Kamala Mills in a posh locality of Mumbai where many young people lost their lives, before that the incessant Mumbai rains and the water clogging on the streets which took away precious lives, the Maratha agitation and the recent avoidable twitter controversy created by the hardcore supporters of BJP, when they objected to the CM and his wife attending a prayer meet, Fadnavis should have been more cautious. Though there was nothing wrong in Fadnavis attending the prayer meet, he was inept at handling the controversy which erupted thereafter. At a time when hardcore BJP supporters are busy in exposing the true face of the missionaries who visit the country on a tourist visa, a better explanation was expected of the CM.
Even PM Modi has desisted from visiting any such religious event which can tarnish his image and label him as a minority appeaser. The PM believes in true and meaningful empowerment of minorities than just photo ops.
There was no need for Fadnavis to provide a platform for the likes of Mevani to address the gathering. He should take a cue from Kerala CM, who has ordered action against a school for inviting the RSS Boss to unfurl the national flag on the eve of Independence Day. The communists go to any extent to protect their interests and ensure that their dominance remains unchallenged. Or for that matter, Mamta Banerjee, who recently cancelled a function hall booking for an RSS event. Maintenance and repairs were given as the reason for last minute cancellation of the event.
The fact that the two major cities of the state, Pune and Mumbai were in news for all the wrong reasons doesn’t bode well for the Fadnavis Sarkar. The constant flow of intimidating statements of the Shivsena leaders against the establishment and ridiculing of the policy’s of the PM should be another matter of concern. The two champions of the Hindutva cause are always at loggerheads and Fadnavis has failed miserably in reaching out to its alliance partner. When Gadhkari and Munde were at the helm in Maharashtra, things were different.
None of the congress alliance partner ever uttered a word against Sonia Gandhi during and after the congress rule of ten years. But Shiv Sena has made a habit of bashing Modi and his policies.
The impact of the violence at Bhima-koregaon is also felt in the neighbouring state of Karnataka. A number of Facebook pages maintained by the Dalits are cautioning their followers against trusting the fascist regime at the centre. An environment of mistrust and fear is created in the gullible minds. Given the fact that Karnataka goes to polls in a matter of few months, BJP should be careful in tightening its belt. It’s time for Fadnavis to use an iron fist and set an example by taking stringent action against any individual or organization found guilty of inciting the violence. Even the statements of Prakash Ambedkar, where he accused few saffron organizations of inciting the mob, should be taken seriously. And the role of these organizations must be probed.
Winning elections and winning over situations are two different things. And it’s time Fadnavis mastered the latter.