Jai Shri Ram chants at President Kovind’s oath ceremony expose BJP again

How come they forgot to say Jai Bheem? And what if someone raises a slogan related to some religious identity other than Hindu?

 |  4-minute read |   25-07-2017
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Watching the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected President of India Ram Nath Kovind, images from memory reminded me about another Dalit face of the BJP, Bangaru Laxman, who was expelled over misconduct exposed by the sting operation of a media house.

Bangaru was the first Dalit president of BJP, and his one misconduct put a full stop on his political career. The “party with differences” refused to show any mercy to the leader, who represented a marginalised and oppressed section of society and whose appointment as party president was something rare and unexpected.

Indeed, his appointment was political, not a wishful and obvious move of the party. There were valid reasons to remove him. However, the caste factor for the action against him couldn’t be ignored.

One senior BJP leader once explained it in an off-the-record conversation. He said, “Bangaru Laxman paid for his misconduct. But this is not the only thing he paid for. His caste is also a factor. If he would have been a Brahmin, or any other upper caste, he wouldn’t have faced so much negligence and ignorance from the party.” This is just one example to understand how many in the BJP think about the Dalits.

If any political front uses the Dalit mask for votebank politics or/and for their socio-cultural agenda, they should not be mistaken as Dalit sympathisers at heart. In fact, these things should be worrisome for the community, its ideologues and political activists that some fronts are using their face and identity for political and electoral benefit.

Bangaru is not the only one who has been convicted and found guilty of misconduct. From many sitting CMs to ministers in the central government cabinet and even at senior positions in the BJP, there are many who have cases against them, or are/were accused for misconduct. They never got punishment like Bangaru did, for many reasons including caste.

The compulsions of politics have once again made the BJP decide something which would appease Dalits. Kovind is the President of India now and through this, the BJP has sent a strong message to the Dalits. At the same time, it has shaken the forts of regional leaders who are surviving on the Dalit votebank.

The BJP played Kovind as a north Indian Dalit to become President for the first time. They won and Kovind, on Tuesday, took oath as the new President.

bangaru_072517072821.jpgBangaru Laxman was the first Dalit president of BJP. Photo: PTI

And then something once again washed the dust - slogans like “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat mata ki jai” were raised in the central hall and exposed what really matters to the BJP and what rules their hearts.

The BJP, in defence, is saying that what’s wrong in such slogans? Having said that, the BJP has no answer as to why it forgets to say Jai Bheem at the same time. The party, which has desperately tried to appropriate Ambedkar in recent years, forgets to say Jai Bheem and remembers to say Jai Shri Ram; isn’t this sufficient to doubt the distance between the mask and the heart that they have.

This is an unfortunate surprise for many, indeed, especially those who believed that it is a big day for Dalit politics, those who believe in Ambedkar, and those who really stand with the Dalits in this country.

This is the reality of the BJP’s nature; no matter how hard you try to hide the realities, the sweat on the forehead says it. Chants of “Jai Shri Ram” were something close to their belief and ideology but wasn’t the election of a Dalit as President a moment to celebrate? If yes, how come they missed the slogan which should have been the first word uttered out of joy.

The justification for “Jai Shri Ram” chants in the central hall would be tested only if someone raises a slogan related to some religious identity other than Hindu at any such event in the future. Will the BJP welcome those slogans and add its voice to the chorus?

It was a happy day for the BJP. And they expressed their happiness; they expressed what they are happy about and they ignored what was immaterial. This is why it was only “Jai Shri Ram” and no “Jai Bheem”.

The timeline from Bangaru to Kovind has many moments where the BJP has tried its best to appease Dalits. However, there have been more incidents, comments and atrocities which have expose the party’s double standards.

Rohith Vemula, the Una incident, General VK Singh’s comments after the Faridabad incident and lynch mobs targeting Dalits are some recent examples - the reality of the minds behind the masks of votebank politics.

Also read: BJP is eyeing Mayawati's Dalit vote bank by playing up Kovind card in 2019

Writer

Panini Anand Panini Anand @paninianand

The writer is Editor, Aajtak.in

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