Biography of Kashiram: A Social and Political Struggle - Death Anniversary Special - Online History

Biography of Kashiram: A Social and Political Struggle – Death Anniversary Special

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Manyavar Shri Kanshi Ram was born on March 15, 1934, in Khawas Pur village of Ropar district of Punjab (India). He died on 9 October 2022 in Delhi. He was the eldest of eight siblings. He belonged to the Ramdasiya (ad righteous/native) community of the Scheduled Caste group, which is the largest group in Punjab. Today, on the death anniversary of Manyavar Kanshi Ram, we want to introduce you to his life and struggle. Do read this article till the end.
 
 

The early life of Kanshi Ram

He was named Kanshi because after his birth the midwife placed him in a tray made of bronze metal. His father owned some land and his uncle was in the armed forces. In the own words of Sahib Sri Kanshi Ram, “I was born and brought up among those who sacrificed themselves but never betrayed the country…” Despite his low caste background, he lived in Ropar (Punjab). Graduated in Science from Government College.

 

Name
Kanshiram
Born March 15, 1934
Birthplace Pirthipur Bunga Village, Khawaspur, Rupnagar District, Punjab (India)
Mother’s Name                   Smt. Vishan Kaur                                
Father’s Name
Shri Hari Singh
Marital status
Unmarried
Siblings
Swaran Kaur, Kulwant Kaur, Gurcharan Kaur, Dalbara Singh, Harvansh Singh
Education Bachelor’s Degree in Science
Profession
Social Worker and Politician
Founder BAMCEF, Bahujan Samaj Apatya and DS-4 
Died
9 October 2006 (age 72 years)
Place of Death
New Delhi
Political Legacy
Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party
Books  The Chamcha Age: An Era of the Stooges, Writings & Speeches of Kanshiram, Birth of BAMCEF

 

 

“We will not stop until we organize the victims of the Hindu system and root out the feeling of inequality in our country.” – Kanshi Ram


Beginning of Kanshi Ram’s struggle

He belonged to a normal family. There was nothing special about him during his years of education to suggest that he would mature into a great social revolutionary. It was only after getting a government job in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that he became influenced by the writings and life of Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who raised the concerns of the lower caste community of India and worked his entire life for the empowerment of them. worked hard in life.

When Kanshi Ram sacrificed his job

Soon after graduation, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji joined the research staff of Kirkee’s Explosives Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) in Pune in 1957. While working in Pune, he resigned from his job after being involved in the famous Dina Bhan case. Shri Dina Bhan, a Rajasthani Scheduled Caste employee and a senior associate of Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji, was suspended.

His fault was that he called Babasaheb Dr. BR. Opposed the decision of the ERDL management to cancel the holidays for Ambedkar and Lord Buddha Jayanti and replace them with an additional holiday for Tilak Jayanti and Diwali. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji decided to fight against such casteist and dictatorial behavior of the management. In Sahib Sri Kanshi Ram the suspension order of the fighter Sri Dina Bhan was revoked and the holidays of Dr. Ambedkar and Lord Buddha Jayanti were restored.

 
 

Beginning of the Dalit Liberation Movement in India

This was the beginning of a long fight for the emancipation of Dalits in the country which was to be led by Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram till his last breath. He resigned from his job and devoted his entire life to the cause of the rest and suffering community. Since then he never married nor went to his home.

Because his struggle was not for home and family. He devised a new strategy to recover the lost glory of the original (Adi) inhabitants of India. He attached the utmost importance to the culture of work and the democratic method of struggle. He also expanded the scope of Dalits by including other backward classes and minorities.

“We don’t want social justice, we want social change. Social justice depends on the person sitting in power. Suppose a good leader comes to power at a time and people get social justice and they are happy but when When a bad leader comes to power, he again turns into injustice. Therefore, we want total social change.” – Kanshi Ram

Criticism of the Poona Pact

He criticized the post-Dalit leadership of Ambedkar, the messiah of Dalits in India. For this, he cited the “Poona Pact” as the main reason. He said that the “Poona Pact” has made Dalits helpless. By rejecting separate electorates, Dalits were deprived of their real representation in legislatures.

Many more different types of chamcha have been born in the years since independence. As and when the so-called upper caste Hindu rulers of India felt the need for chamchas and when the authority of the upper castes was threatened by genuine and genuine Dalit leaders, chamchas were brought to the fore in all other areas.

Dalit politicians called the ‘Chamcha era’

In his “The Chamcha Age”, a well-argued and controversial tirade against pseudo-Dalit leaders, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji sharpens the antidote to the legitimate acquisition of political power by Dalits in electoral democracy in India.

In the Chamcha era, “he focused heavily on the Poona Pact, which was a point of a decisive Gandhian victory over Dr. Ambedkar after a long duel between the two at the Round Table Conference”.

In the mid-1960s, Sahib Kanshi Ram Ji began organizing Dalit government employees to fight against what the upper castes viewed as deeply prejudiced. This was the time when he decided that he would not marry and would dedicate his life to Dalit reform. In the end, he decided to play an important role in the politics of the country.

 
 
 
 

Establishment of All India Backward Classes (SC, ST, OBC) and Minority Community Employees Association, (BAMCEF)


As a result, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji started his first organization on 6 December 1978: All India Backward Classes (SC, ST, OBC) and Minority Community Employees Union, popularly known as BAMCEF.

Establishment of Bahujan Samaj Party


 Three years later, on 6 December 1981, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji founded another organization: DS-4 (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti), and on 14 April 1984, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji founded Bahujan Samaj Party (Dalit Samaj). party) was announced. Aam Aadmi Party). As a statesman, he became very popular among his people, who found new hope and vision in his style of work and honesty.

Suddenly he became a national identity. He was a skilled strategist and a skilled organizer. He used his power to create a niche for the Dalits. This was done by implementing an often belligerent and aggressive strategy, with furious attacks on other political parties, which he claimed represented only the interests of upper-caste Hindus. He was completely different from other mainstream politicians. He used to communicate before speaking.

In 1996 Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Hoshiarpur constituency, from where the great Ghadari Baba Babu Mangu Ram Mugovalia, the founder of the “Ad Dharma Andolan” 50 years earlier, had returned to the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1946. Interestingly, it was in Hoshiarpur, the stronghold of “Ad Dharma”, that the BSP celebrated the 75th year of the “Ad Dharm Movement” on February 18, 2001. On this occasion, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji called upon the Bahujan Samaj to follow the principles of the “Ad Dharm Movement”, whose torch has now become the BSP.

He was one of the few great leaders of independent India who really expanded the boundaries of Dalit politics. His political vision was never confined to the Scheduled Castes only, as he is often thought of. All the political organizations he established were for all types of Dalits – SC, ST, OBC, and minorities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it was he who took the lead in making Indian democracy more competitive and practically open to the DalitBahujan society.

 From BAMCEF to Bahujan Samaj Party


Kanshi Ram was born as a Raidasi Sikh in 1934, a community of Punjabi tanners converted to Sikhism. The family-owned 4 or 5 acres of land, some of which were inherited, and the rest was acquired through government allotments after independence), a small landholding background characteristic of many scheduled caste legislators, but in general But Dalits remain a comparative rarity. Kanshi Ram’s father was a bit literate, and he was successful in educating all his four daughters and three sons. The eldest Kanshi Ram is the only graduate.

After completing his B.Sc degree, he was given a reserve position in the Survey of India, and in 1958 he was transferred to a munitions factory in Poona as a scientific assistant in the Department of Defense Production. Kanshi Ram suffered no untouchability as a child, and there was no open discrimination in the educated circles of his adult life.

But there was a sudden change in his attitude in 1965 when he became embroiled in a struggle launched by other Scheduled Caste employees to stop the abolition of the holiday to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Ambedkar. Kanshi Ram had to face the depths of upper-caste prejudice during this struggle. and hostility towards Dalits which was a revelation to him.

His almost immediate radicalization was complete soon after he read Ambedkar’s Destruction of Caste: he read the book three times a night, completely without sleep.

Kanshi Ram was introduced to Ambedkar’s political ideas – he was never attracted to Buddhism – by his Mahar Buddhist colleague and friend at the War Material Factory D.K. It happened through Khaparde. Together they began to formulate an idea for an organization to be formed by educated workers belonging to scheduled and backward castes.

Such an organization would work against oppression and oppression by upper caste officials and would enable the often insider-looking people of reserved positions to give something back to their communities. So Kanshi Ram and Khaparde started contacting potential recruits in Poona. Around this time Kanshi Ram abandoned any idea of ​​marriage, mainly because it did not fit into a life he now wanted to devote to public concerns.

He had also lost considerable interest in his career, although he continued with the job until about 1971. He finally left after a severe struggle over the non-appointment of a clearly qualified Scheduled Caste girl. During this conflict, he had gone so far as to kill a senior officer, and he did not even bother to participate in most of the disciplinary proceedings that ensued. He had already made up his mind to become a full-time worker, and by then the movement had become strong enough to meet his modest needs. 



In 1971, Kanshi Ram and his associates 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 objective was to: examine our problems closely and find prompt and equitable solutions to the problems of injustice and harassment of our employees in general and of educated employees in particular.

Despite the association’s inclusive reach, its aggressive Ambedkarite stance ensured that most of its members were Mahar Buddhists. It had over a thousand members within a year of its establishment and was able to open an office in Poona: many members were from the Defense and Postal and Telegraph departments, and their first annual conference was addressed by the then Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram…

Kanshi Ram’s next organizational step was to form the basis of a national union of scheduled caste government servants. In early 1973 he and his associates founded the All India Backward and Minority Employees Federation (BAMCEF), and in 1976 an executive office was established in Delhi.

BAMCEF was restarted with much fanfare on 6 December 1978, the anniversary of Ambedkar’s death, with a procession of two thousand delegates claiming to have attended the Boat Club lawns in New Delhi (BAMCEF Bulletin April 1979). Although the stated objectives of the new organization were essentially the same as those of the earlier body, the rhetoric became bolder. It was not only the oppressors who came under fire but also several reserved postholders:

Since all the avenues of advancement in the fields of agriculture, trade, commerce, and industry are closed, almost all the educated persons from these [oppressed] communities are trapped in the government. Services. Nearly 2 million educated oppressed Indians have already engaged in various types of sobbing during the last 26 years.

The Civil Services Conduct Rules impose certain restrictions on them. But his inherent cowardice, cowardice, selfishness, and lack of desire for social service to his own creed have made him extraordinarily useless to the masses of oppressed Indians. The only ray of hope is that there are some teachings almost everywhere in the country. who feel deeply agitated about the miserable existence of their brothers. (BAMCEF Bulletin 2 1974)



It was not until the mid-1970s that Kanshi Ram established an extensive network of contacts throughout Maharashtra and adjoining areas. During his frequent train journeys from Poona to Delhi, he made a habit of getting down at major stations along the way – Nagpur, Jabalpur, and Bhopal, to try to contact potential sympathizers and recruit them into the organization (Kanshi Ram Interview: 1996).

Once they moved to Delhi they moved further into Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh as well as Madhya Pradesh. In parallel with his work among the educated workforce, Kanshi Ram was also reaching out to a wider audience with simple presentations of Ambedkar’s teachings.

Thus in 1980, he organized a road show called ‘Ambedkar Mela on Wheels. It was an oral and pictorial account of Ambedkar’s life and thoughts, as well as contemporary material on oppression, tyranny, and poverty. Between April and June 1980, the show was broadcast to thirty-four destinations in nine northern states.

Jang Bahadur Patel, a Kurmi (a backward caste) and president of the Uttar Pradesh branch of the Bahujan Samaj Party till late 1995, recalls meeting Kanshi Ram for the first time when he took his roadshow to Lucknow (Interview: 25 November 1995) ).



Kanshi Ram spoke strongly about how Ambedkar fought for all the downtrodden classes, and how the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the backward minorities were all victims of Brahmanism. Because of the weight of their numbers, these men had the ability to transform themselves from ‘beggar to ruler’. It was all a matter of organization.

Patel immediately joined BAMCEF, although he was in a separate minority as a non-untouchable: untouchables constituted about 90 percent of the membership, with the other io percent divided between tribals and backward caste people.

The motto of BAMCEF, ‘Educate, Organize and Agitate’, was adopted from Ambedkar, and its activities were formally divided into a number of welfare and proselytizing objects. But increasingly Kanshi Ram’s agitational activities were taking him into politics.

By the late 70s, he was not satisfied with being the leader of the reserved post holders, a class for which he had less than absolute respect. Kanshi Ram’s first attempt to create a radical political vehicle capable of mobilizing large groups of Dalits was the Dalit Soshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS4) formed in 1981.


It was conceived as a political organization parallel to BAMCEF: it shared the same president, the same office, and many members in Kanshiram. The DS4 was a quasi rather than a fully-fledged political party, partly because government employees were forbidden to participate in electoral politics.

But the DS4 made little concrete progress, and in late 1984 Kanshi Ram took the lead and formed the Bahujan Samaj Party (a variant named after Phule’s nineteenth-century organization). Inevitably, this created major tension in the BAMCEF ranks.

Their agitational activities put many of their associates in a vulnerable position as government servants of the Poona and early Delhi periods and, in any case, many of them had political loyalty to many aspects of the Republican Party.

 
Tension also arose for Kanshi Ram’s desire for complete dominance over the three organizations. And the need for money was growing as he pushed into politics: a worker from Maharashtra reminded Kanshi Ram of giving him a purse of forty thousand rupees collected from Maharashtra in 1984. Many of these strains became more severe over the next two years, and a major split occurred in early 1986.

 Kanshi Ram had announced at that time that he was not ready to work for any organization other than the Bahujan Samaj Party. His transition from social worker to politician was complete.

Kanshi Ram is more an organizer and political strategist than an innovative thinker or charismatic public speaker. While his Ambedkarite ideology has remained persistent and lacks any innovation, his rhetoric has had a progressive sharpness.

The early issues of BAMCEF’s monthly magazine, The Oppressed Indian, were filled with his didactic interpretations of Ambedkar’s views on Indian society. These have now replaced simpler formulations, repeated in many newspaper accounts and in both public and private speech.

The central proposition is that Indian society is characterized by a selfish rule of io percent over the other 90 percent (Bahujan Samaj or common people). Although the ruling io cent is made up of several castes, they derive their legitimacy and ruling ideology from Brahmanism. All the institutions of society including the press reflect this ruling ideology and perversion.

Therefore these institutions may be called Manuvadi (after the great Brahman-inspired text) or Brahmanical. In the election market, such simplicity has been reduced to even more cheapness and uniqueness. After the formation of DS4 a slogan was coined, ‘Brahmin, Baniya, Thakur Chor, Baaki Hum Sab DS-Four. Briefly translated, this poem states that Brahmins, Banias, and Rajputs are thieves, while the rest of society are their victims.

The adjectives reached their zenith during the election campaign for the UP Assembly in 1993, the most infamous ones: ‘Tilak, Taraji, Talwar. Hit them with shoes. This slogan, with its insistence in Hindi, advocates that Brahmins, Banias, and Rajputs, each identified by a minor word, be beaten four times with shoes – due to the ritualistic impurity of leather. Traditionally a form of humiliating punishment. While Kanshi Ram and Mayawati denied being the authors of such slogans, they served as a simple and dramatically offensive marker of the party’s ideological position.

Kanshi Ram’s strategy and his broad understanding of social change are now quite developed. He no longer believes in the primacy of social reform. Rather the expenditure of effort on anything other than capturing the government is considered wasteful. It is the administrative power that will bring about the desired social change and not vice versa. So he refuses to lay down policies on fundamental issues like liberalization of the Indian economy or land reforms.

He is of the view that such issues are irrelevant to the power-seeking project, and appropriate policies will be put in place once they are in power. His picture of India is of a kind of holy war on the part of Bahujan Samaj against their Brahminical oppressors. The debate about policy in the context of this war is almost meaningless. This is a stand of pure fundamentalism, but it also frees him to indulge in the most brutal pragmatism in the name of grabbing power.


In line with this stand, Kanshi Ram has become critical of the institution of reservation in government employment. Reservation is a ‘crutch’ – useful for the handicapped, but a positive hindrance for one who wants to run on his feet (Kanshi Ram Interview: 1996). Now they reject the point that once the Bahujan Samaj comes to power across India, they can be kind to Brahmins by giving them reservations in proportion to their small population. There is more than a little brashness in this, but there is no doubt that Kanshi Ram is now hostile to the system of institutional preference which was the essential basis of his own personal and political career.

He seems to believe that reservation has done enough for the Scheduled Castes now. He noted that of the nearly 500 Indian Administrative Service (LAS) officers in Uttar Pradesh, 137 are from the Scheduled Castes. By comparison, there are only seven IAS officers from backward castes, of whom six are Yadavs (Hindustan Times, 6 April 1994). This is not to say that there are now too many SC officers – their number is in line with the legal quota – but that there are far fewer than the OBCs. He clearly believes that the capture of political power will automatically change the structure of the bureaucratic elite.

The Bahujan Samaj Party first made headway in Kanshi Ram’s home state of Punjab, but their primary political task was to free the Chamars of Uttar Pradesh from Congress. It was the fate of Kanshi Ram that he built the party at the historic moment that the long fall of the Congress became a landslide. His party’s formal entry into Uttar Pradesh was in the 1985 by-election to the Lok Sabha seat of Bijnor, in which its candidate was Mayawati.

She is a Jatav (Scheduled Caste), the daughter of a petty government official in Delhi, and had completed her BA and LLB from Delhi University. Mayawati contacted Kanshi Ram in 1977 when she was a student and gradually joined his organization. Her opponents in Bijnor included Ram Vilas Paswan – the two have had a bad relationship since the contest – and Meira Kumar, Jagjivan Ram’s daughter, representing the Congress.

Rajiv Gandhi was at the peak of his popularity at that time and Meira Kumar easily won the seat. But by 1989, the Bahujan Samaj Party had done five years of concerted planning in parts of Uttar Pradesh and neighboring regions of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, and Haryana. And meanwhile, the popularity of the Congress party had declined. Kanshi Ram had carefully prepared the ground. They had selected organizers and candidates from different social backgrounds.

One of their organizers was Dr. Mehsud Ahmed, a provisional lecturer in history at Aligarh Muslim University. Mehsud was disillusioned with the Congress when Indira Gandhi made her infamous leanings toward Hindus in the early 1980s (Mehsud interview: 27 November 1995). He joined BAMCEF and then moved to DS4 in 1983 as a full-time organizer and fundraiser. Later, Mehsud was made in charge of the entire eastern Uttar Pradesh for the Bahujan Samaj Party.

 
The years of organization bore fruit in 1989 and 1991. The Bahujan Samaj Party’s vote share varied only marginally, between 8.7 and 9.4 percent, in the four state assembly and parliamentary (Lok Sabha) elections for Uttar Pradesh between 1989 and 1991. But this impressive vote produced a dismal number of seats – in 1989 the party won 13 of the 425 state assembly seats, and in 1991 it won twelve.

The party won only two parliamentary seats in 1989, and one in 1991; Later Kanshi Ram won the by-election from UP in 1992. Both the party’s strength and weakness are that its primary ‘vote bank’, the Chamars, are relatively evenly spread across the state. This spread gives the Bahujan Samaj a chance at a large number of seats but makes it logistically impossible to win a single seat without strong support from other communities. Although it has attracted support from Muslims, Backward Castes, and other Scheduled Castes, it has faced considerable resistance among these targeted communities. We need to look at this problem more closely.

First, there is the question of why most Jatavs in western Uttar Pradesh strayed from their relatives in the eastern part of the state and continued to vote for the Congress in 1989 and 1991. The answer to this question is not completely clear. Some have attributed the result to Mayawati’s poor organizing ability – she was in charge of the region – but the deeper reason was B.P. The Jatavs may have a historical association with the Mauryas. In a move of some desperation, the Congress revived 70-year-old Maurya as one of the four national vice presidents ahead of the 1996 elections.



But by then Mayawati had become an electorally popular figure in eastern UP. As far as the Scheduled Castes other than Chamars/Jatavs are concerned, Kanshi Ram’s party has been voted by only Pasis in large numbers. Valmiki (formerly known as Bhangi) voted strongly for the BJP in the 1993 assembly elections and was the only Valmiki to represent the BJP in the Lok Sabha, elected in 1991 (although he was elected to the Janata Party in 1980). ). Mangal Ram Premi MP – His biography is sketched in Chapter 8, describing the Valmiki support of the BJP by advertising the community’s dislike for the Chamars (Interview: 4 November 1995).

The Chamars are in greater numbers, better educated, and more successful in securing reserved positions than the Valmikis, and this creates resentment. Many washermen have also voted for the BJP recently. In short, Kanshi Ram’s party has not solved the problem of how to mobilize all or most of the Scheduled Castes. Ambedkar’s problem has repeated itself in Uttar Pradesh, although the Chamars of Kanshiram are more numerous and numerically more influential among the untouchables than Ambedkar’s Mahars in the western part of the country.

Among the backward castes, Kanshi Ram has got the strongest support from the Kurmis. In Bihar, it is an upwardly dynamic farming community that is responsible for many of the worst atrocities against Dalits. But in Uttar Pradesh, the Kurmis are comparatively low on the prosperity scale. In addition, they have a history of anti-Brahmin fundamentalism – Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur remains a source of inspiration for some of them.

 

And a sprinkle of them were members of the Republican Party. The Kurmis could see an advantage in being associated with a party that was not dominated by a large number of Yadavs (who have strong affiliations with Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party). As far as the large number of OBCs in Uttar Pradesh is concerned, over the years there has been a three-pronged struggle between the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and the Samajwadi Party to win their support.

All three have had some success, but perhaps the bulk of this vote is floating that would flow with the mainstream political current of the time. The last community to consider is Muslims. After the destruction of the Babri Masjid, Muslims have become politically leaderless. He has seen the Congress as its guilty failure to stop the demolition of the mosque and has given considerable support to Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and some support to Kanshi Ram.

Thus in the municipal elections of Uttar Pradesh in November 1995 and in the national and UP elections of 1996, it seems that the Muslims of UP were prepared to vote for the strongest anti-BJP party locally. In short, the politics of post-Congress Uttar Pradesh is currently largely cast in terms of community vote banks. Political strategy is a matter of positioning one’s party so as to maintain its core vote bank and also attract marginalized others. At least like any other player, Kanshiram has approached the game with calculation skills.

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