On 9th October 2006, when the sad news of Saheb Kanshi Ram’s death reached his well-wishers throughout India and abroad, several questions rose in their minds.
The glorious heights he took the caravan of Babasaheb Ambedkar–what will be its future? As, after the demise of Babasaheb on 6th December 1956, his movement was destroyed by his own Lieutenants will Saheb Kanshi Ram’s movement also come to a similar end? Or will Saheb Kanshi Ram’s followers learn from that mistake so that it is not repeated? Will the Bahujan Samaj (ST, SC, OBC, and Minorities), which consists of 85% of India’s population, become the rulers in most states and the country, a goal for which Saheb had worked tirelessly, day and night? Or will they will become slaves of the Manuwadi community (so-called Upper Castes) which is only 15% in population – once again? Many other similar questions were bothering people.
But only a few months after the Parinirvan of Saheb, when in 2007 the results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections were announced, people finally got some relief. For the first time, the Bahujan Samaj Party had got an absolute majority and the government was formed under the leadership of Behan Mayawati. Everyone felt that not only the movement of Saheb Kanshi Ram was safe but that it was also heading towards its goal with all force. It was just a matter of time before the Lok Sabha elections were held, Bahujan Samaj will become the ruler and will end its thousands of years of slavery.
Little did they know that the movement built with so much pain by Saheb Kanshi Ram had reached its heights and disaster was waiting ahead.
Soon after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it started to decline. Even after forming an absolute majority government in Uttar Pradesh, instead of improving its performance, the downfall started. After winning in 2007, everyone was hoping that in 2009 it will walk away with the maximum number of MP seats in UP and will achieve good results in other states too. That it will emerge as a strong player in national politics and if there is a hung Parliament, it will be a strong contender for leading the government. Contrary to this, even in Uttar Pradesh, it slid down to the third spot after Samajwadi Party and Congress. And also lost its vote share and the dreams of Bahujan Samaj coming to power were broken into pieces.
Soon in Uttar Pradesh and many other states, where due to Saheb Kanshi Ram’s hard work and able leadership, Babasaheb’s caravan was once again on the move. But then it collapsed. Besides Uttar Pradesh, in one state after another–Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar, etc.–where once Bahujan Samaj was getting on its feet, BSP lost its recognition from the Election Commission. The national recognition which was gainedin 1996, after tireless efforts of Saheb, is also under threat.
The downfall also started in Uttar Pradesh. After a great start on 14th April 1984, Babasaheb’s birth anniversary. Within 5 years in 1989, Saheb was able to get 2 MPs and 13 MLAs elected. In just 9 years i.e. in 1993, he was able to take the Bahujan Samaj to the corridors of power. But in 2012 Assembly Elections, not only was BSP defeated but also lost its vote share. From 206 MLAs in 2007, the numbers came down to just 80 in 2012. When the Lok Sabha elections were held in 2014, for the first time since 1989, BSP was not able to send even a single MP to the Parliament. The words of Saheb that a political movement cannot move forward without good election results, came to be true. He had warned several times that if we want to make our movement successful in politics, then we must get MPs, MLAs elected. BSP’s downfall continued and in 2017 Assembly Elections of Uttar Pradesh, it was not able to win enough MLAs to even elect a single Rajya Sabha MP.
Saheb Kanshi Ram had expressed the grief of Babasaheb in many mass rallies: that before leaving this world Babasaheb had said that, I brought this caravan to this stage after many pains. If my followers cannot take it forward, then they must leave it here; but under no circumstances it should go backwards. But after Babasaheb, not only did his caravan go backwards but, because of his lieutenants, it was also shattered to pieces.
Saheb tried to find out how such a large movement, which Babasaheb not only led in India but took it to the international stage, was destroyed in a few years after him.
According to him, the success of Babasaheb’s movement was due to its dynamism: he was able to adapt according to the changing times. He first formed the Independent Labour Party, then the Scheduled Castes’ Federation and in the end, planned to form RPI. Similarly, he changed the names of the various magazines he published: Bahishkrit Bharat, Janta, Mooknayak, Prabuddha Bharat, etc. But after him, his followers were unable to maintain this dynamism and the movement became static.
He said that in 1965, ten years after the death of Babasaheb on 6th Dec. 1956, his movement had collapsed not only in India but also in Maharashtra. He was present in Pune and witnessed it with his own eyes. We can see, that eight years after Saheb Kanshi Ram’s death on 9th October 2006 in 2014, when the Lok Sabha elections were held, BSP was unable to win even a single MP. As Babasaheb’s movement had collapsed in its stronghold of Maharashtra within ten years after his death, in the same way, Saheb Kanshi Ram’s movement also collapsed in its stronghold of Uttar Pradesh within ten years of his death.
Are there any similarities in the collapse of these two movements led by these two great leaders of the Bahujan Samaj, within ten years of their demise? After doing a deep analysis of Babasaheb’s movement, Saheb Kanshi Ram had found the reasons behind its collapse. But what is the reason behind the fall of Saheb Kanshi Ram’s movement? Did a similar fate meet it, as it had happened before, or were there different reasons this time?
The Bahujan Samaj, especially the leaders and intellectuals, must come forward to find the answers to these questions. If we are able to find the answers after thorough analysis, only then can we rebuild this movement so that it can move on the right track and start heading towards its goal once again. At this critical point of history, when the Brahmanist forces have gained absolute power, we should not waste any more time. Otherwise, the coming generations will never forgive us.
On 9th October 2018, the 12th Death Anniversary of Saheb Kanshi Ram, this will be a real tribute to him.
Jai Saheb Kanshi Ram! Jai Bhim!!
Satvendar Madara works in the Hospitality Industry. He is doing the important work of collecting Saheb Kanshi Ram’s speeches online, and also takes a special interest in the Bahujan Movement.