Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why Are Dalits Not Enthusiastic About Anna’s Movement?

Bhanwar Megwanshi
August 24, 2011.

Dalit, Adivasi and religious minorities are curious to know why Anna Hazare and his followers did not care to go on a fast when heinous atrocities were committed against their people. Why not when Dalits were brutally massacred in Hazare’s own state of Maharashtra, in the remote village of Kharilanji, which set off mass protests by Dalits across Maharashtra and beyond? Why not when, under the guise of Salwa Judum, the government was seeking to crush Adivasis protesting against oppression by branding them as Naxalites? Might this indicate that Anna and his team have no interest at all in the injustice and oppression that millions of Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities have to suffer on a daily basis? By praising Narendra Modi, who permitted the brutal murder of several thousand innocent Muslims, Anna has clearly shown that communalism and fascism, too, are not issues that he is interested in struggling against. Anna did not sit on a fast to protest against the suicides of tens of thousands of impoverished peasants in his own Maharashtra. Given all this, is it surprising that Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities are, by and large, simply not interested in joining his movement?

The oppressed castes are wary of Anna’s team and its demands for another reason. The Lokpal that Anna’s team is demanding will be so powerful that it will possess all sorts of powers—to hear complaints, to investigate allegations, to arrest, to tap phones, to snoop in on emails and SMSes and even to impose punishments. This enormously powerful body will be even superior to the country’s Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. The Constitution speaks of the separation of powers of these three wings of governance, but the Lokpal that Anna’s team is demanding would clearly subvert this structure by imposing itself, in an Unconstitutional manner, over and above the three wings. While from a village-level patwari to the Prime Minister, everyone would be answerable to the Lokpal, the Lokpal itself would be answerable to no one at all. This clearly indicates that under the guise of Anna’s ‘anti-corruption movement’, an uncontrollable mob is seeking to set aside the Constitution of this country and Constitutional provisions and do away with democracy.

Babasaheb Ambedkar (Dalit leader) was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution, and so Dalits have an emotional attachment to the Constitution. If a movement sets itself above the Constitution and challenges democracy, a key pillar of the Constitution, Dalits will refuse to support it. That is why Dalits and other oppressed caste groups remain indifferent to Anna Hazare’s movement. And, because of this, the movement, despite claiming to speak for the whole of India, is nothing of the sort. Rather, it may be considered the voice of just a section of the English-speaking middle-class Savarna Hindu minority.

Read the entire article here.

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