Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kanshiram - Biography

Kanshiram was son of a Raedasi Sikh ( his father converted to Sikh religion  from Chamar community, scheduled caste)  in 1934. , Kanshiramji was the eldest son and  completied..B.Sc degree. Kanshiram got his first job in the Survey of India in reserved categroy. In year 1958 he was transferred to the Department of Defence Production as a scientific assistant in a munitions factory in Pune. As a Sikh, he may not have been subject any caste discrimination. But, in 1965, there was an event in which his Scheduled Caste colleagues had to vehemently  oppose the abolition of  holiday commemorating Dr B R Ambedkar's birthday anniversary. The event might have etched in his mind ‘the power of being in the power’ that can easily abolish the interests of Underclass and he might have resolved to do something about it. He got involved in organizing his colleagues. His activism got intensified by a reading of Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste. The story is that he read the book three times in one night, going entirely without sleep.

            Kanshiramji was mesmerized by the political ideas of Dr. B R Ambedkar which he came to know through his stay in Pune. Maharashtra is Ambedkar's territory. He got instantly attracted to the political philosophy of Dr B R Ambedkar.  He and a friend,  began formulating ideas for an organization to be built by educated employees from the Scheduled and Backward castes.

            He quit the job and in 1971 Kanshi Ram and his colleagues established the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities Employees Welfare Association, which was duly registered under the Poona Charity Commissioner. Their primary object was: To subject our problems to close scrutiny and find out quick and equitable solutions to the problems of injustice and harassment of our employees in general and the educated employees in particular. He did not stop here. He was quite aware of the fact that all over India the nature of the problems of the underclass government employee are someway of similar nature.  Where would they go in order to tackle the problems that directly threaten their services or legitimate rights when they are surrounded by high intensity hostility?  His ideas were of grand scale: immediately with his friend he thought of establishing an all India underclass employee federation that resulted into formation of The All India Backward and Minority Employees Federation (BAMCEF) in 1973, and a functioning office was established in Delhi in 1976. BAMCEF was re-launched with greater fanfare on 6 December 1978, the anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar's death, with claims of two thousand delegates joining a procession to the Boat Club Lawns in New Delhi.

            The size and reach of the BAMCEF started flourishing under the visionary leadership of Kanshiramji. He had moved to Delhi and toured northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc., and spread his organization. He started a BAMCEF Bulletin to maximize the reach of federation and put together subscribers and made simple presentations of Ambedkar's teachings. The result of it was 'Ambedkar Mela on Wheels' a road-show put together in 1980 that toured, between April and June, thirty-four destinations in nine States of the north India. This was an oral and pictorial account of Dr B R Ambedkar's life and views, together with contemporary material on oppression, atrocities and poverty. Through out the tour he had appealed and educated to the Underclass community to agitate for their political rights as no one would do it for them. He had narrated it as an ultimate gift of freedom that they should present to their brothers and themselves.

               During his tours Kanshiram successfully managed to attract  many employees belonging  to numerous castes and the able and potential leaders to the federation, who later held important organizational positions after the formulation of political wing in the form of BSP.

            In 1981 he formed Dalit SoshitSamaj Sangharsh Samiti abbreviated as DS4, first novel attempt to create a radical political vehicle capable of mobilizing the larger body of Underclass.    He dissolved it in year 1984  and formed a complete political party, Bahujan Samaj Party. This caused major strains in BAMCEF ranks. After much deliberation Kanshiram announced that he will work the BSP and he took as his mission, capturing the political power leaving behind all activities. It saw the split of BAMCEF in year 1986.

            He put in a solid organizational work and his newly formed party made headway in Punjab, Kanshiram’s home State. With initial success in Punjab, he marched into  Uttar Pradesh.   The formal entry of his party into Uttar Pradesh was in a by-election in 1985 for the Lok Sabha seat of Bijinor, in which its candidate was Mayawati. Mayawati had made contact with Kanshi Ram in 1977 while she was a student, and had gradually been drawn into his organisation.  He with his staunch supporters initially worked out on weaning Chamars, the caste he belonged to, from the congress all across the state.  First of all he had won the confidence of the Chamars and instilled the divine value of being the follower of the BSP and trained them to understand to put the party’s interest above everything else. His policy worked. Then Mayawati, worked among her caste Jatavs.  He had then gradually spread the wing of his party to accommodate OBCs, Kurmis, Muslims, Tribes, Yadav, etc. in its fold. The way Kanshiram brought various communities in the party’s fold to the point that its candidate was offered a chief ministerial position was the Kanshiram effect. It came to the power four times in a decade of its formation  was something very mind-boggling for the opponents.    

            Kanshiram and Mayawati worked out and executed number of policies that would increase their party base whenever they came in to power. They formed the government with all the opponent parties that includes congress, BJP, SP, etc. They formed the governments and brought them down at will when they found they were  engaging in the activities that would harms the party’s interests. Each time when they came into power they very smartly calculated how much time that they had in this term or how long their government would last long, so accordingly they were making polices and prioritize them. They never yielded to the wishes of the partner that would dilute or pollute the policy work of the BSP. They never feared elections. Together they formulated the novel winning strategies whenever the state went in for poll. He took  his political mission to  other state such as AP, TN,  MP, Kerla, WB, etc. There he did not meet with the expected outcome but started party units and asked his party to persist with political  efforts,

            Kanshiram is a great man who fought for better tomorrow and inspired many to make the divine difference.

In every sense Kanshiram is the par excellence pragmatic edge of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who not only shown the way to the underclass but actually led them to the centre stage of government without playing a second fiddle to the so called mainstream political parties. His message was loud and clear ‘If engaged in a political bargain do it in such a way that it would reap a bumper harvest of opportunities for the suppressed Bahujan community, as a whole and not for individuals who will remain loyal servant and burdened cattle of mainstream political parties’. He remarkably succeeded in instilling the message that the Bahujan have to be taken seriously rather than viewed as a vote bank to be exploited by their social superiors. It was as if the world could stand on its head, so that the divine bottom will rule over the self-styled top. He was political mathematician of highest degree. He coordinated his points of political moves well beyond imagination and drew them together that took the shape of considerable pragmatic value and scored exceptional points.

He died on 9 October 2006.

To offer a fitting tribute to the giant the BSP has decided to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Kanshiramji as a ‘Bahujan Diwas’. Even after his death, the BSP is progressiing and it is a credit to his leadership and ideology. His ideology is still helping the party to reach  the important milestones of success on the roads of Indian politics which are mired with the complexities and paradoxes.

Remembering Kanshiram

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80th Birth Anniversary 2014


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