There are no breaking news at the moment

ambedkar-periyar

This is a monograph of an organization which is involved in reclaiming the Bahujan’s historical legacy of resistance and struggle for right to dignity for all Bahujans and creating knowledge, based on Buddha, Charvak, Kabeer, Basavanna, Phule-Ambedkar, Shahu and Periyar’s ideology. Predominantly it is talking about Bahujan Rashtra and countering the concept of Hindu Rashtra. The organization consistently following the agenda of Bahujan Rashtra, a struggle of BSS (Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti) against RSS.

Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti(BSS) was founded in Nagpur, Vidarbha and known for its struggle against fanaticism, unmasking RSS as well as its contribution in pioneering OBC movement in Maharashtra. It was very well supported then by Dalit movement, which was already spread over in Maharashtra. Although, BSS was not known widely in main stream media but it is a part of a networkingof OBC movement on national level.

As its’ name Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti (BSS), an organization wanted to execute real meaning of Bahujan, aimed to bring diverse and plural culture together to fight against caste discrimination and to fulfill Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of the caste annihilation.

According Nagesh Chaudhary, a Convener of BSS, “OBC is an official category emerged after Mandal Commission’s report. OBC means the lower castes are socially, educationally backward classes included for reservations and affirmative actions. Bahujan is an identity which is not only political, but, social, cultural and plural in a sense that large chunk of population belongs to the lower caste in India, are called Bahujan. But BSS also claims itself a pioneer of OBC movement in Maharashtra.”

In spite of the beginning of the organization was with the demand of implementation of the Mandal report, and organization emerged as an OBC organization, it preferred a name Bahujana wider and plural identity of lower caste people in India.

Bahujan word was used first by Gautam Buddha, 2500 years before; a phrase is so popular among common people i.e. “Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay”. Later in 17thcentury we find the word Bahujan in Saint Tukaram’spoetry.

In 19th century Mahatma Jotirao Phule was the first social revolutionary who unveiled Brahminsm and Brahminical patriarchy. He was the first person who put forward a concept of Brahminical patriarchy through his writings. He set out a theory of Trivarna verses Shudratishudras. Shudratishudras were Bahujana toiling and peasant class in the society which was always slave under the cloak of Brahminism. Jotirao written his book ,‘Slavery’ in 1873, and founded Satyashodhak Samaj, which was totally different from Arya or Prarthana Samaj. It was not asking some reforms in rituals and customs, but denying Manusmruti based code in Hindu religion. Bahujan Sangharsh follows Mahatma Jotirao and Savitribai Phule’s legacy.

In early 20th century Maharshishinde used a word Bahujan and formed a political party called Bahujan Paksh. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar brought all Shudratishudras under one category that was Bahishkrut Bharat means excluded India—Bahujan of India. In Maharashtra from Satyashodhak movement to Non-Brahmin movement is a legacy of cultural revolt against Brahminism. Shahu Maharaj and Badoda’sSayajiGaikwad Maharaj were supporters of these movements. Shahu Maharaj encouraged Non-Brahmin girls and boys to take education by starting reservations in 1912 and provided separate hostels, residential schools for them. SayajiraoGaikwad also started fellowships for the students to go abroad for higher education. In 1912 Babasaheb Ambedkar was selected among five students. He went to Columbia University. In 1917 he presented his first essay on caste system which has become a milestoneon which several caste theories can be built up.

Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti was inspired by this historical legacy of Satyashodhak and Non-Brahmin movement. It always tried to be associated with Dalit movement and unmasked the Brahminical face of RSS and BJP.

In-spite of BSS working unfailingly, silently and completed36 years, not a single issue was missed out of Bahujan Sangharsh in these 36 years of fortnight periodical named “Bahujan Sangharsh”.

The purpose of this article to bring out the contribution of Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti,Nagpur.

Mainstreaming History of BSS

So media was successful to make opinion of common people that the OBC or Bahujan movement is only for reservations. Henceforth there is need of mainstreaming the historical contribution of organizations of Dalit Bahujan, Adivasi, religious minorities and women. The reality is different, many OBC organizations are following path of Phule-Ambedkar, Shahu –Periyar and Buddha. One of them is Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti, (BSS) located in Nagpur.

BSS is known in Vidarbha now for its contribution in spreading ideology of Phule-Ambedkar, taking strong position against Hindu fundamentalism, constructive activism, study, research, documentation, sensitization , mobilization, organization on one hand and on other hand ideological contribution like deconstruction of Brahminical frame and reconstruction of Bahujan idiom. It is not reached in English media widely, because majority of writings are written in Marathi, also the folk language/ dialect is encouraged to share the experiences in BSS is not accepted by Pune-Marathi Brahminical readers, they have certain indicators of standard Marathi, so Bahujan Sangharsh does not have reach out in allover Maharashtra except intellectuals in spite maintaining the continuity and there is not a single fortnight issue was unpublished in BSS’s history as Chetana Chaudhari recalls her memories of her childhood.

Initially BSSwas emerged as a discussion group in 1979 in Nagpur. The group of 15-20 people was very active in those days in social progressive and in Dalit movements started working for the rights of Dalit-Bahujan. In this study circles they were studying the Phule-Ambedkarite literature, the black movement, the Marxist literature etc. Initially in this group fewe of them were from left or socialists background and most of them were influenced by Phule-Ambedkar-Shahu-Periyar’s ideology. They were among those leftists who always consciously worked on caste reality that subaltern classes are in the lower and lowest castes in India.

Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti’s (BSS) main involvement in the Bahujan politics emerged during the Mandal’s first phase in 1980. Mandal commission has played a vital role in shaping and sharpening the ideology of BSS.

Mandal Commission’s Appointment in 1979

On the 20th December, 1978, ShriMorarjibhai Desai, the then Prime Minister of India announced on the floor of the Parliament the decision to appoint Backward Classes Commission under B. P. Mandal’s chairmanship, with four other members. They were: Dewan Mohan Lal, Shri R.R. bhole. Shri Dina BandhuSahu and Shri K. Subramaniam. On 5th Nov. 1979 Shri Dina bandhu resigned on grounds of health, and he passed away on 7th October 1980. To replace him L.R.Naik was appointed in the month of Nov 1979. Among these committee members there was not a single woman representative.

By an Order made by the President of India, in the year 1979, under Article 340 of the Constitution, a Backward Class Commission was appointed to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India, which Commission is popularly known as Mandal Commission.

Mandal Commission started its work on 21st March 1979 after inaugural speech by Prime- Minister Morarji Desai and ended with the valedictory address by Prime-Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi on 12th December 1980. Chair Person B.P. Mandal expressed gratitude that even the commission was appointed by previous Janata Dal Government, Smt. Indira Gandhi then the present Prime-Minister gave two extensions and extended support to the commission. Even though there were state elections etc. and quite challenges to gather data, Commission completed its work in two years and submitted its report finally in December 1980.[1]

While the report of the Mandal Commission has generated an unstable political and social atmosphere on one hand, on other hand it re-energized the Satyashodhak, Non-Brahmin, Dalit-Bahujan movement in India, especially in Maharashtra and South. It had brought out caste conflict among all political parties, and unmasked the myth of an identity of being one as Indian. The right, left and liberal parties then were fragmented due to theirpositions about Mandal report.Mandal report controversy exposed the Brahminism within Congress, BJP and left parties. Most of them were opposingto implement Mandal report. As we know that in 1980, Morarji Desai was no more prime minister. Congress once again came into power and Mandal report was submitted in both the houses of parliament but former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and after that Rajiv Gandhi ignored the report.Rajiv Gandhi’s controversial comment

This was the time when Dalit-Bahujan movement in several parts of India stood in support of Mandal. The political conflict among the leaders brought OBC leaderships together. Since 1980 to 1990, the pressure was created by several democratic ways and means to implement Bill on one hand , and on other hand the country was burning and volatile on the issue of reservations, witnessed the self-immolation of the students like Rajeev Goswami and other after the report was accepted by then the Prime Minister V.P.Singh on 7th August 1990.

On this background it becomes very crucial to understand what was it that in Maharashtra there was not such sporadic opposition was emerged especially in Nagpur, the fort of RSS. In fact RSS could not come out strongly against Mandal in Nagpur or Vidarbha, because the Dalit-Bahujan movement was very much active in front-line. It is interesting to see the historical process of emergence of BSS in Nagpur.

BSS also was a product of this political caste conflict. Some veteran leaders from existing Dalit-Bahujan movement came together in Vidarbha like MotiramPawade, Adv. Dhepe, NaliniSomkunwr, prominent Bahujan writer M.M. Deshmukh, NaliniSomkunvar and Nagesh Chaudhari initially. They decided to form a committee which was named“Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti for implementation of Mandal Commission”. On 3rd July 1983, it was initially emerged as a collective forum with specific agenda to support Mandal commission, to get reservations to OBCs, but group has decided to select Bahujan instead OBC. The Bahujan was preferred because it was sounding more inclusive, showing numeric strength, recognizing diversities and had broader identity and above mentioned historical legacy.[2]

Mandal report became the effective instrument for campaigners to mobilize OBCs.

Nagesh Chaudhari has written a book in Marathi on Mandal report named ‘मंडलआयोग:एकआव्हानआणिआवाहन’, “Mandal Commission: A Challenge and a Call”. While, Mandal Commission was like a challenge for the upper castes and opponents of reservations, it was a challenge for OBCs to support Mandal in such critical situation and hence Bahujan Sangharsh was giving call to mobilize and organize different lower castes which were unaware about their rights as OBCs. This book was the first book in Marathi which was informing people about the facts in Mandal report as well as was describing a history of Phule-Ambedkar movement to rise of OBCS from their shell of slavery. This book was distributed in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and Council session in 1983. The prominent politicians like Sharad Pawar, N.D. Patil and Com. Datta Patil immediately read the book and even the question were asked in Assembly.

This book has made history. One of the young activists then, Sandhya Ghatole shared her experience; she says that after reading this book, in her neighborhood she started distributing the copies. It was useful to have dialogue on Mandal. She started talking on the basis of the book, mainly about OBCs and reservation and conducted study circles of the OBC youth (girls and boys)” .

She recalls “It was the first time ever, in an area like old Mangalwari[3], wherewe started a group of 5 women and mobilized 200 women to join us in the campaign to implement Mandal commission report. At that time, MetkarGuruji, Nagesgh Chaudhary, SeeemaSakhare were our leaders andaddressing the public meetings.Hatware Kaka had given us his house to use as an office of our organization; it was fully equipped wih the library on Phule-Ambedkarite literature and other books also. It was a branch of BSS in our area. Nagesh Chaudhary was our mentor. So in Hatware Kaka’s house we started our Study Circle and weekly meetings. Then we started celebrating Savitribai Phule, Mahatma Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth and death anniversaries in our neighborhood. On such occasions, we were organizing rallies, with a lezhimpathak, we were holding fancy dress competitions on the theme of great leaders in India..We were writing songs and performing them, which were giving message to mobilize for Mandal report to implement, to stop caste discrimination , our right to education and reservation as being OBCs.

“I remember that MoreshewarNasare, Suresh Charade, NutanMalavi, ShalinibaiMokhare, MeerataiHatwar, all these people were leading the movement with Nagesh bhau in Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti. This was quite mesmerizing period for us. In 1989we mobilized thousands of people. We had the meetings with different castes, and then we heard about the rally in Delhi. We decided to go to Delhi to join public rally on Boat Club. First we had women’s rally of 50 OBC women in Nagpur and demonstration in support of Delhi event, we weredemanding an implementation of Mandal Commission report. It was the first time ever in the history of Teli (oil producers) caste, where women gathered for the social cause, not just for themselves, but for all other OBCs. Some of us joined in the national event like huge rally in Delhi.”

First All India Conference in support of implementation of Mandal Commission Report

On 4th December 1983 in Nagpur in support of Mandal Commission report and its’ implementation by Indian Government an All India conference was held by Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti, Nagpur. Since the foundation of BSS Nagesh Chaudhary was given a responsibility as a national convener. He left his job and worked full time for this organization and decided to give his life to the cause of Bahujan people with the extensive vision of creation of Bahujan Nation.

BSS held the first national conference in Nagpur. Numerous eminent personalities were present in this two days conference like Dr. Brahmaprakash Chaudhari (EX CM of Delhi, President of National Union OfBackword Classes),[4] General Secretary Of DravidKaZgum Mr. K.Veermani, Prof. Kanshiram from DS4 (At that time BSP was not formed), Com Sharad Patil, Dhule, Dr. Baba Adhav, Pune, GajananBhoyer from Mumbai.

It was quite memorable event for in Nagpur which was and is famous for its RSS centered activities and politics. Such all India level leaders gathering was a union of Dravid movement, Satyashodhak movement and Lohiaite Socialist movement in UP/ Delhi. If Satyashodhak and Dravid movement in south, Periyar and Phule-Ambedkar movement could come together before the politics of backward classes would be different than today said Nagesh Chaudhari while recalling the historical events held by BSS. This conference was historical in one more sense that it was first show of our strength as a result of consciousness raising about Mandal was going on since 1979. The PanjabraoDeshmukhHall of Dhanawate College was houseful, people were gathered from remote villages to listen national leaders on Mandal Commission’s importance in OBCs life. With all these veteran leaders on behalf of BSS Nagesh Chaudhari and Anil Dhawad were on the stage. Hundreds of people united, gave slogans “Implement, Implement Mandal Commision”.B.P.Mandalthen became a hero of all these backward caste people. (it was too obvious, when Mandal report was tabled by then prime Minister V.P.Singh, the day also was known a Mandal day, which was later on celebrated by BSS).

Those were the enthralled days of Mandal, 52% of population of backward castes would be eligible for reservations if Mandal report would be accepted. However as in all over India most of the lower castes were misguided, similarly in Maharashtra also such attempt was done by Hindu fascist and fanatics forces, they captured some powerful caste leaders from Kunbi, Teli, Mali to oppose Mandal. The communist leadership was also not in favour of Mandal. Some socialists influenced by Lohia and JP were supportive, but there were no. of opponents to Mandal which we could observe at the time of V. P. Singh’s resignation. In Vidarbha all the Dalit leaders supported unanimously to Mandal commission’s report, more than OBCs they stood with us in solidarity. The Muslim and Christian leaders also joined and hence our forum was for implementation for Mandal commission was not only for OBCs, it was wider, inclusive, it was for all Bahujan, till today we could sustain that position and keep open democratic space. I never use my convenership as a leader, I have taken seriously to run organization and decision making was always collective, in public we were keeping resolutions, strategies and after comprehensive discussion we were taking decision unanimously. Hence our programs were on collective funds by all of us contributions; we never approached to any ministry, or any industrialist for funding.” Nagesh said.

Hindu Nation verses Bahujan Nation

Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti now is known as a powerful voice in Vidarbha of questioning to Hindu Nation and giving an ideology of Bahujan nation. In today’s challenging situation of increased fundamentalism planting and nurturing of Phule-Ambedkar’s thought is not a less significant. BSS is emerged to implement Mandal report, but the whole struggle has taken a direction from affirmative reservations to realization of dialectics of social revolution.[5] It is known for making history by keeping struggle continue to get justice to Bahujan started from the issue of implementation of Mandal commission and would be continued until the OBCS will not get their rights. Bahujan Sangharsh has been an example of producing several Satyashodhak activists, writers and supporters of Bahujan ideology. Bahujan Sangharsh did not only deconstruct the Brahminical ideology, but attempted to reconstruct through several sequencers like celebrating Baliraja festival (1985), Opposition to RavanDahan, Celebrating Mandal Commission day on 7th August from 1991, Organizing awareness raising programs on the occasion of Savitribai and Mahatma Jotirao Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Periyar’s birth and death anniversaries, reactivated Satyashodhak Samaj and restarted organizing Satyashodhak conferences, organizing Lokbhasha (folk-language) gatherings etc. Bahujan Sangharsh is known for its radical views and concurrent standpoints and confrontation against fanaticism , fundamentalism and does not hesitate to unveil the Brahminical mentality even in so called progressive people in politics or in people’s movement. Still it is known for planned, balanced interventions and strategies, therefore the people who were active in this forum from the beginning are still connected in spite of their difference of opinions, their separate organizations. The network with likeminded on national level and bringing ideologues from south, north, east, west and organize their lectures , is one of the activities of producing new generation of Phule-Ambedkar ideology. There are ample examples of confrontations against injustice to get justice to Dalit Bahujan, in result there were and are threats given to Nagesh Chaudhari. It does not matter that the struggle is webbed in the name of the organization, and quite radical in the positions, the leadership of BSS is soft spoken, democratic and inclusive according to activists spread over in Vidarbha.

As there are strengths of this collective forum described above there are limitations to the organization that in spite of Bahujan women’s participation has been from the foundation of the day, the women are included in editorial board and in executive body of collective, there are not yet women’s participation and women’s leadership has been evolved except two three very promising radical women leaders BSS has given. BSS is working with caste associations to raise consciousness, introducing Bahujan ideology, the BSS activists from each caste has taken the responsibility, but the castes are so tight and intertwined that intercastes marriages, breaking castes are still question of caste-community’s existence. But efforts are not stopped because the caste system is constructed 2000 years before, it is installed, inherited, internalized, manifested and practiced in everyday life with its non-breakable layers based hegemonic system. So BSS knows that it needs revolution so the work should be continued.

The organization has been engaged to mobilize farmers on Phule’s line and trying to address challenges in globalization, but is not yet succeeded to decline the no. of suicides of farmers, however on other hand the new women leadership is now engaged from BSS started working with farmer’s mainly in organizing women farmers is now new hope. The BSS is working mainly among OBC, believing in that OBCs will be emancipated only after contesting, refuting and questioning to Hindu Brahminical construction of caste system and patriarchy. Mandal Commission has given these OBCs a new homogenous category, for their social cultural forwardness such reservations will provide them an opportunity of education , employment. But ironically in this mainstream education there is not yet inclusion of education based on vision of equality, liberty, respect each other’s diversities with their langauges and life styles, equity and human rights of dignity. So to challenge mainstream education one has to enter into it and prove her/ his capacity/ ability. These most of the 52% castes are yet don’t get facilities of primary level education, the backwardness socially and culturally also deprived them from economic development, hence now according to BSS leadership that OBCs should learn from Dalit movement and follow SC/ STs that how they have shown their calibers after getting opportunities and still did not forget that reservations are just for time being, so for human rights and salvation they have to embrace Bahujan ideology.

“The Bahujans got the trickling benefit of Muslim and British rules. But, no sooner did the Aryans realize that, the hold on their ‘Nation’ is loosening they masterminded infighting among aboriginals and also against the Muslims and Britishers. The British and Muslim rules were humane in that they did not upheld caste hierarchy or untouchability and awakening the mulnivasis thereby diminishing Brahmanical hold on them. As a result the mulnivasis started gradually acquiring strength to assert themselves and revolt. Before they could muster adequate strength to do so, these conspirers defeated them. Muslims gone, Britishers gone, and again the inhuman Brahminical system started gaining strength.” Nagesh Chaudhary explains his position.

Bahujan Sangharsh as an organization very much believes in bringing Bahujan’s cultural revolt in front of today’s era of Hindutva revivalism. But as Bahujan are under Brahminical servelence, they just internalized Brahminical ladder system. They are very much influenced by caste hegemony. They are the most superstitious among today’s population, who are the blind followers of ‘the Hindu Nazi types organization like RSS’, the convener of BSS says. He further analyzes “Why RSS is steadily grown? They do not nurturepersonal ego. They have carved themselves for a “national” agenda, RSS is theirown “nation’s” policy. The RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat.said “Rashtra Niti is important than RajnitiSangh”. (Organiser, March 19.2000).

Thus, they have a Rashtra Niti (national policy) an agenda above Rajnit (politics). BJP is secondary to RSS and not vice-versa. RSS dictates the terms not the BJP. Their political wing is just a part of their Sangh Pariwar. In fact they give top priority to “cultural revolution” – whatever they mean by it. They have built their socio- cultural -religious, literary, media fronts and enslaved the Indian masses. They do not call “politics as the master key”. In their view political power is only one of the keys. —-RSS is an all-embracing organization. It is the mother of many organizations. It gave birth to Jan Sangh then to the BJP, ABVP etc. What about other political parties? Have they such an origin? Are they having their cultural Pariwar to support all other branches of activities spread over in administration and each education institute?”[6]

So according to BSS activists and founders“Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti is not only for one group or one caste, it is aimed to motivate people from Shudratishudra by spreading an ideology of Phule-Ambedkar, consequently Atishudras who already have been observed, experienced and got a new identity from this renaissance, now it is turn of Shudras (OBCs/Bahujan) and all women who are still carrying mental slavery of Brahminism and stuck into protecting symbols as their identity, which is not individual identity as human being, but identity of dependence, the subjugation by hegemony. You can see the reflection in Diwali festival, actually the king was Bali, where all farmers and workers were happy, but Vaman forcefully encroached a kingdom of Bali, Diwali was a harvesting festival was celebrated in old days in memory of Bali, but after cooption and appropriation by Brahmanism, Vaman was made hero and Bali was sidelined. Still old farmers worship Bali as they know Bali’s contribution in the farmer’s life. But text books in Mharashtra tell children Brahminical version of the story that Bali was defeated by Vaman and hence worshiping Vaman as aavtar of Vishnu is Balipratipada. BSS started a Bali Raja festival during Diwali as a symbol of resistance against Brahminism.”[7]They want to nurture BSS as a cultural wing and reach out to all the Bahujans through cultural expressions like felicitation of birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, Jotirao Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Periyar, Shahu Maharaj, AnnabhauSatheetc and organize Satyashodhak conferences to bring together from different caste associations to break their molds. BSS organized public meeting and speeches of renowned writers and thinkers like Comrade Sharad Patil, Dr. Baba Adhav, Dr. A. H. Salunkhe and the members of BSS themselves go as speakers and raise awareness through their writings and speeches. The women activists who were inspired by BSS like Nootan Malvi, Apekshawrite regularly, Shail Jaiminee, SandhyaSaratkar, SandhyaGhatole, Sunneta Kale, AparnaBhonde they perform, give speeches and hold progras to raise awareness among Bahujan women an alternative to traditional gathering like Haldi-Kumkum(only for married women). They invite all women from married, widow, deserted, battered, victim of domestic violence, unmarried, single and divorcee women together to felicitate Savitribai’s work and counter the mythological image of Savitri who saved her husband.

Henceforth the importance of denial symbols of slavery becomes a strategy to fight against discrimination; it is not mere confrontation, but realization of slavery and asset to oppose it. These are the processes of destruction of identity based on subjugation and reinventing the historical legacy and reclaiming it also fills vacuum and give strength to resist, the process of rewriting history and creation of new symbols based on egalitarian values is reconstruction. The organization like BSS is part of such contemporary efforts of reclaiming, deconstruction, reconstruction and the bringing out new literature with contextualizing Budhha, Kabir, Phule-Ambedkar, Shau-Periyar. This is a knowledge creation from Bahujan standpoint or one can say subaltern history, which was also not so much taken into consideration by subaltern theoretician as they read and write in English, so whenever they get material translated they bring huge volumes of subaltern cultures. But as Dalit literature there is not yet OBCs or lower caste women’s voices are translated. So in regional languages Bahujan tried to bring out their legacy. You can see it among the founders of BSS, who already have written the history of several castes and their contribution as toiler as well as in surplus, their contribution in agriculture, their contribution in architecture, in artisanship, in constructionetc.They were really inspired by Gail Omvedt’s “Cultural Revolt in 19th century’, a research published in 1974, the work like Ganesh Devi, Dr. A.H. Salunkhe and Comrade Sharad Patil. So you can see veteran writers in Vidarbha like M.M. Deshmukh, Mr. Vadaskar, MotiramPawade, SudhakarGaidhani, Prof. YashwantManohar, Dr. SeemaSakhare, Dr. RoopaKulkarni (Bodhi), Jaiminee Kadu, Ashok Chopade, PurushottamBhishikar, Pushpa Chaudhari, Lata P.M., and Nootan Malvi etc. have contributed to not only Bahujan Sangharsh, but they have produced independently books, articles and research papers. This is a real knowledgeproduction based on Phule-Ambedkarite ideology done by BSS supporters, sympathizers and stake holders.

But Vidarbha was always neglected by media on the background of Pune-Mumbai (brahminical) scholarship, hence such extensive cultural contribution and knowledge creation are yet not recognized or discussed in the discourse like subalterns, women’s or Dalit-Bahujan studies in the universities in metropolitan cities under Brahminical influence.

Point to be noted that such multiplecultural diversities had been preserved parallel by Bahujan writers and researchers in Vidarbha andavoided interference of Brahmins, was an inspiration and treasure for Bahujan Sangharsh too. BSS wanted consciously documenting such endangered practices, folk languages/ dialects, culture etc.as well as nurturing the rationality to bring out Bahujans from Brahminical influence and superstitious practices.This is a part of BSS’s strategy and socio-cultural politics to create Bahujan Rashtra.

BSS used its’ mouth piece ‘Samatesathi Bahujan Sangharsh’ a fortnight periodical since thirty two years without a single break, to spread the ideology and awareness quite meticulously.

Bahujan Sangharsh: Channel to sensitize and aware Bahujan

Bringing out a periodical like Bahujan Sangharsh also had interesting story behind. Nagesh recalls “After All India conference on Mandal, we left balance of RS. 400. Then we decided to bring out one periodical, the name also unanimously selected “ Samatesathi Bahujan Sangharsh—means Bahujan’s struggle for Equality”. In editorial board Anil Dhawad, NaliniSomkunvar, YashvantSaratkar, JyotiKotamkar, RaveendraThakrewereselected. Vijay Babhulkar was doing all the editing and proof reading. The first issue of Bahujan Sangharsh was published on 30th March 1984. In those days we were giving the news of OBC movement, related Mandal commission. “ [8]

Since 1990, BSS has started felicitating Mandal Day on 7th August. The activists of BSS have continued this Mandal Day felicitation to recall the moment of recognition of constitutional rights of OBCs to get reservations.

Surviving and sustaining on subscription for 31 years, not a single break, continuously at every fortnight issue was published. This periodical became a space for various Bahujan writers for their expressions while in mainstream media was not ready to publish such expressions which could deconstruct the traditional hegemony of Brahminism and could raise awareness among lay person around. Most of the readership of BSS is spread over in rural area of Vidarbha. In the special volume published on the occasion of completion of 25 years of Bahujan Sangharsh, various readers and associated person have written about BSS, from those articles you can depict the process of developing Bahujan consciousness.

Political is Personal

Nagesh Chaudhari himself after leaving his good salary job as lecturer in Geology, have decided to give full time to the Bahujan movement, his wife Pushpa Chaudahri, ( popularly known by her maiden name Vaze madam among students) has decided to continue her job as a teacher in Bhide Girls school. Nagesh comes from OBC Kunbi family, he lost his mother at the age of 14 and then with his two siblings (one sister, one brother), shifted to his mother’s mother, his grandmother till her death has taken all their responsibilities. Nagesh was going for agriculture labour work with his grandmother. The village was quite in remote place in Varud tehsil, Amravati district. As he passed out SSC exam with first class and distinction, no one at home was knowing that what he was achieved, but grandmother was convinced that all these children should get high education. One of the ex-students those days asked him to go to Nagpur for college education, that was the last day of admission, but this friend has helped him to submit all his certificates etc. Nagesh was science student, started staying in hostel by Ramkrishna Math, he was religiously following their rituals, playing Tabla, but he realized that at the time of Arti, the priest didn’t allow him to take puja’sthali / arti’sthali in his hand. The monks in Ramkrishan math were kind enough and loving this child but on subtle level there was discrimination, which was disturbing Nagesh. At this juncture he was introduced to Karl Marx’s Das capital, he read it and it was his turning point.

Nagesh started reading then Phule-Ambedkar, and he realized that Marx could give you rational about dialectical materialism, but not giving any rational to annihilate the caste system. In this period he met severalfriends active in radical progressive, socialist and left movement, as well as in Dalit movement. He was influenced by Phule’s Satyashodhak ideology and there he clicked a concept of Bali’s Rashtra against V (B)amana’s Rashtra.

He left this hostel in Ramkrishna Math, taken his job after MS.C. andshifted to rented house, where he met Pushpa Vaze, a girl from Brahmin family. Obviously in late 70s such inter caste marriages like Kunbi and Brahmin were uncommon. But they were supported by both families.

He introduced Marx, Phule, Ambedkar to his wife, although she had a full time job as a teacher, she started giving her rest of the time in activism convincingly.

In the era offorming big NGOs, taking funds from funding organizations, Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti is totally unique that it worked as a collective forum, full time activists were supported by their family members (spouse), the big conferences were always held on people’s contribution, the account and auditing were transparent and open, thus collective responsibility and accountability could restrict corruption and misuse of people’s contribution, hence gained people’s trust. Nagesh and Pushpa Chaudhary have brought up several activists; one of them was Netaji Rajgadkar, emerged as an Adivasi political leader, and became MLA. The school is run in Paradhi community by BSSnear Nagpur. Pannalal Rajput has taken initiative to run the school . He said “BSS’s support to voice out discrimination done to Paradhi families, a rally first time was organized against murder of Ganesh Pawar, taken position atrocities against Paradhi community. Pannalal feels that he got a family in the form of Nagesh Bhau and Pushpatai. Pushpatai and Chetana (their daughter) were always co traveller of BSS as well as maintained their own personal identity in their field of teaching and research.

BSS is now a big family of activists believing in Bahujan ideology, working as Satyashodhak, inspired by Phule-Ambedkar, Shahu Periyar and Buddha.

The most fascinating thought which has been spread from platform of BSS is that Bahujan Nation as well as the question was raised that why in this country women are not founder of religion? The discourse is born around it that if women would be founder of religion how it would be? All the religions are founded by men; they made goddesses to bright and courageous women heroes, but never allowed their scholarship to form a religion. BSS’s utopia of Bahujan Rashtra is imagining an egalitarian society in the leadership of women founder of such religion which will be based on equality, liberty, fraternity, equity, non-discrimination and protecting ecology.

A poem written by A.L Uike raises the question “Can you convert these tribal or lower caste people in the caste of Mahatma Gandhi or Hedgewar ?” Poem was published in issue of Bahujan Sangharsh March 1996

On the threshold of 2016, we know that fundamentalism in globalization will come in multiple forms. So recognize and mainstreaming the contribution in several parts of contry will raise hopes as well as strengthen networks, if this information will be circulated on social media, people will realize that existence of groups like BSS is how much important to face fanaticism and fascism. This is a small attempt of mainstreaming the contribution of real and rare democratic spaces alive in India.

After thirty six years of Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti and its mouthpiece Bahujan Sangharsh now they have become a legacy for new generation and inspiration. BSS is known for its contribution in pioneering alternative Bahujan culture, creating followers of Phule-Ambedkar ideology, organizing Satyashodhak, Bahujan Conferences and develop discourses. The main objective of this forum was standing courageously against Brahminism and Hindu fundamentalism and fanatics.

To end this monograph Pannalal Rajput’s expression will be the best narrative about BSS. He said, “I was staying in my one hut with dogs, goats, lambs and cows together. I was not having sense that how the human being lives. I met Nageshbhau on 9-8-1986; Mr. JotiKotamkar game me his address. I met Nageshbhau and narrated the condition of Pardhi, (NT/DNT) and asked him to visit. He personally came and then I became a member of his family.There were hundreds of newspapers. But what was the use? No one was interested to publish real issues in NT/DNT’s life. Bahujan Sangharsh was the first magazine in which the story of atrocities against Paradhi community was published. Then media got to know, but BSS continue visiting to the Pardhi community living in tent on the roadside. This organization made me and family humane and raised awareness about human rights. Now due to this organization I came to know about Phule-Shahu Maharaj, Ambedkar and Periyar by attending organization’s meetings, hearing speeches. I was illiterate but now know aware that how and why Brahminism and fundamentalists kept us backward. So I want to create Bahujan Satyashodhak nation will be based on constitution, where each person will be consideredhuman being.”

There are several eyes waiting for such nation, where human being will be important than religion, caste, creed, color, gender or any type of discrimination. Will BSS accept such challenge to counter religion based nation, which is the agenda of RSS?

Lata Pratibha Madhukar (Lata P.M.) is a Social Activist, Researcher, Trainer and Writer Email: latapm@gmail.com

Notes:

[1] Mandal commission Report Volume I, covering letter to the President of India

[2]“ BahujanKaun?” Article written by Nagesh Chaudhari in bahujan Sangharsh

[3] Old Mangalwari is a neibourhood in Nagpur where you can find all different castes from OBcs as well as SC’s are staying in one locality in Nagpur.

[4]Brahmaprakash Chaudhari was a chairperson of national Commission for Other Backward Castes.

[5] Nagesh Chaudhari, editorial in Bahujan Sangharsh, published on 15th Sept. 1995

[6] http://www.bahujansangharsh.org/index.php?view=article&catid=35%3Aarticles&id=65%3Awhy-bahujans-are-divided-and-brahmins-are-united-andq-g-front- 12thjune 2016

[7] Chaudhari, Nagesh Bahujan Sangharsh issue published on the occasion of silver jubilee year of BSS in 2010.pg 3

[8] ibid

Comments are closed.