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From RSS to Ambedkarite, Bhanwar Meghwanshi’s journey

Vidya Bhushan Rawat 15 Oct 2019

Bhanwar Meghawanshi –who left the RSS after being within for decades -- faced discrimination in the Sangh's meetings for being a Dalit, not merely from the upper castes but also from OBCs. He wrote that when he was appointed as a teacher for a village dominated by the OBCs, they got upset that a person lower in the caste structure than theirs is coming to teach them and they were, actually, not ready for that


 


The working pattern of the RSS has been best exposed by those, who were part of it once upon a time. There were many people, who were part of it but got disgruntled with its mechanism of using divisions for the ulterior purpose of maintaining the status quo. One of the finest critics of RSS was Dr. D R Goyal, who wrote a scathing critique of the RSS, giving minute details of the Sangh leaders and how they tried to compromise with Indira Gandhi and sought pardon from her by distancing themselves from the popular anti-government movement launched by Jai Prakash Narayan and other political formations together, against the policies of the government.

RSS is dominated by the Chitpawan Brahmins of Maharashtra. Never, in the history of the RSS,has any leadership emerged from the other communities. Except for RajjuBhaiya, who happened to be a Thakur from Uttar Pradesh, non-Brahmins could not find space in the leadership. Even among Brahmins, all, except for K Sudarshan, hailed from Maharashtra. The interesting part is the division of labour between Maharashtrianbrahmins and Gujarati marwaris, who, allegedly, provide monitory support to them.

After the return of Indira Gandhi in 1980, Congress tilted more and more towards Hindutva, so much so that after her assassination, when Rajiv assumed power in Delhi in 1984, the Sangh openly supported him. Rajiv Gandhi reciprocated by getting the Ayodhya lock opened through a local court order.

The 1990s were the most tumultuous year of Indian politics from a representation point of view. In the war between Mandal and Kamandal, the victory belonged to Mandal. However, the Sangh knew it well that a victory of the Mandal forces permanently meant the collapse of brahmanical hegemony and hence, it continuously worked on co-option. It started playing the same card and there are numerous persons from the Dalit-Adivasi communities, who have worked with them and faced discrimination. Such first-person narratives are very important for all to understand the politics of rightwing 'cultural nationalism'. If RSS has been able to bring more and more Dalits and Adivasis in its fold, it is not merely an achievement of the Hindutva ideology, but a complete failure of socio-cultural-political movement in the name of Bahujan or Adivasis.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi has been an active Ambedkarite author as well as a cultural activist, who has been travelling in Rajasthan from one corner to the other to spread the Ambedkarite movement. He started his career in RSS, as a pracharak, in the 1990s. The poison that he imbibed there, against the Muslims, ensured that he participated in the 'movement' to demolish the Babari Masjid, a 'symbol of our slavery and the barbarity of the Mughals’, who 'demolished' the Ram Temple there in Ayodhya. However,Bhanwar could not reach Ayodhya as Mulayam Singh Yadav had ensured that no Swayamsevaks reach there. This happened in October 1990, when Advani had launched a Rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya and the V P Singh government was dependent on BJP and the Left, both. Advani was ultimately arrested in Sitamarhi, Bihar. In Uttar Pradesh, police had to fire at the unruly mob in Ayodhya, who wanted to demolish the mosque. The firing resulted in the killings of several people, who were hailed as martyrs by the SanghParivar and its PR media, particularly the Hindi papers.

Bhanwar's first person account exposes the SanghParivar and its caste politics. While they are happy to bring you to their fold, yet the old caste order does not die with just one gathering of togetherness. He had not read a single book of any author other than from the SanghParivar, and Panchjanya was his favorite magazine. Now, you can understand the ideological strength of a person, who only read Panchjanya and Sita Ram Goel and others, who regularly appear and preach.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi hails from the Meghwal community of Rajasthan,one of the most articulate communities among Dalits. Perhaps, among the various Dalit communities, it is the most politically assertive and better off community. Wherever Dr Baba SahebAmbedkar’s work reached, the Dalit identity and its assertion grew as the Dalits refuse to surrender to brahmanical propaganda and muscle power. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Telangana etc. are examples where Dalits have stood on their own, do not depend on brahmanical narratives and challenge the brahmanical supremacy. Rajasthan, unfortunately, is one state where this was not there, and it resulted in the unquestioned domination of the brahmanical hierarchical political system. Perhaps, it happened in the absence of an Ambedkarite literature and political movement.

Bhanwar Meghawanshi faced discrimination in the Sangh's meetings for being a Dalit, not merely from the upper castes but also from OBCs. He wrote that when he was appointed as a teacher for a village dominated by the OBCs, they got upset that a person lower in the caste structure than theirs is coming to teach them and they were, actually, not ready for that.

Bhanwar not only left the RSS and its camp but,also, decided to challenge it head on. He formed a parallel students’ union to challenge the ABVP in his area. He started Diamond India on January 14th, 2001. This is a publication dedicated to the community. Slowly, he was introduced to Dr Ambedkar's thoughts and extensive writings on the issue of caste discrimination, untouchability and the representation of the Dalits, which opened his eyes. He has been an avid reader, and is, now, using that knowledge to benefit the community.

Bhanwar has not merely campaigned against the SanghParivar, he is also facing a backlash from those champions, who feel they have got the exclusive right to serve the Bahujan communities. He raised the issue of Dangawash Hostel case in Rajasthan, where a Dalit girl student was raped, and later murdered. The accused belong to a powerful community. Now, various outfits in the name of Bahujan did not want to raise this issue further, as according to them, if this issue is raised too much, then, the alliance with the 'community' will become impossible. So, these people started campaigning against him. But Bhanwar has worked all these years to get people justice. The question is - why should a political alliance so weak that it cannot condemn an injustice happening to a girl? If we cannot speak against the criminal act of a person just because it might hurt his‘community’, then we must not expect much from such alliances. They will be just betraying the people and nothing beyond that.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi's book 'Main Ek Karsevak Tha' in Hindi is a very interesting journalistic first person account of his days with the RSS. His command over language is complete. The chapters are short, and hence, are not monotonous, though I would have loved a little more in terms of dates and period. The publisher has put this as his 'atmakatha' or autobiography, but I am sure,BhanwarMeghwanshi has much more to share than the contents in this book. He should write another first person narrative at a later stage, this time, perhaps, sharing his experiences with the Bahujan, the Left and the liberal 'movements'.
 
RELATED ARTICLES:
  1. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Scathing Attacks on Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra
  2. Sangh Parivar’s tortured bid to appropriate Dr Ambedkar
  3. Who was behind the #Gandhi Jayantivs #Godse_Amar_Rahe: India’s Twitter War?
  4. Mahatma Gandhi on Caste: the Varna-Ashrama System
  5. The Mechanism of Caste

From RSS to Ambedkarite, Bhanwar Meghwanshi’s journey

Bhanwar Meghawanshi –who left the RSS after being within for decades -- faced discrimination in the Sangh's meetings for being a Dalit, not merely from the upper castes but also from OBCs. He wrote that when he was appointed as a teacher for a village dominated by the OBCs, they got upset that a person lower in the caste structure than theirs is coming to teach them and they were, actually, not ready for that


 


The working pattern of the RSS has been best exposed by those, who were part of it once upon a time. There were many people, who were part of it but got disgruntled with its mechanism of using divisions for the ulterior purpose of maintaining the status quo. One of the finest critics of RSS was Dr. D R Goyal, who wrote a scathing critique of the RSS, giving minute details of the Sangh leaders and how they tried to compromise with Indira Gandhi and sought pardon from her by distancing themselves from the popular anti-government movement launched by Jai Prakash Narayan and other political formations together, against the policies of the government.

RSS is dominated by the Chitpawan Brahmins of Maharashtra. Never, in the history of the RSS,has any leadership emerged from the other communities. Except for RajjuBhaiya, who happened to be a Thakur from Uttar Pradesh, non-Brahmins could not find space in the leadership. Even among Brahmins, all, except for K Sudarshan, hailed from Maharashtra. The interesting part is the division of labour between Maharashtrianbrahmins and Gujarati marwaris, who, allegedly, provide monitory support to them.

After the return of Indira Gandhi in 1980, Congress tilted more and more towards Hindutva, so much so that after her assassination, when Rajiv assumed power in Delhi in 1984, the Sangh openly supported him. Rajiv Gandhi reciprocated by getting the Ayodhya lock opened through a local court order.

The 1990s were the most tumultuous year of Indian politics from a representation point of view. In the war between Mandal and Kamandal, the victory belonged to Mandal. However, the Sangh knew it well that a victory of the Mandal forces permanently meant the collapse of brahmanical hegemony and hence, it continuously worked on co-option. It started playing the same card and there are numerous persons from the Dalit-Adivasi communities, who have worked with them and faced discrimination. Such first-person narratives are very important for all to understand the politics of rightwing 'cultural nationalism'. If RSS has been able to bring more and more Dalits and Adivasis in its fold, it is not merely an achievement of the Hindutva ideology, but a complete failure of socio-cultural-political movement in the name of Bahujan or Adivasis.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi has been an active Ambedkarite author as well as a cultural activist, who has been travelling in Rajasthan from one corner to the other to spread the Ambedkarite movement. He started his career in RSS, as a pracharak, in the 1990s. The poison that he imbibed there, against the Muslims, ensured that he participated in the 'movement' to demolish the Babari Masjid, a 'symbol of our slavery and the barbarity of the Mughals’, who 'demolished' the Ram Temple there in Ayodhya. However,Bhanwar could not reach Ayodhya as Mulayam Singh Yadav had ensured that no Swayamsevaks reach there. This happened in October 1990, when Advani had launched a Rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya and the V P Singh government was dependent on BJP and the Left, both. Advani was ultimately arrested in Sitamarhi, Bihar. In Uttar Pradesh, police had to fire at the unruly mob in Ayodhya, who wanted to demolish the mosque. The firing resulted in the killings of several people, who were hailed as martyrs by the SanghParivar and its PR media, particularly the Hindi papers.

Bhanwar's first person account exposes the SanghParivar and its caste politics. While they are happy to bring you to their fold, yet the old caste order does not die with just one gathering of togetherness. He had not read a single book of any author other than from the SanghParivar, and Panchjanya was his favorite magazine. Now, you can understand the ideological strength of a person, who only read Panchjanya and Sita Ram Goel and others, who regularly appear and preach.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi hails from the Meghwal community of Rajasthan,one of the most articulate communities among Dalits. Perhaps, among the various Dalit communities, it is the most politically assertive and better off community. Wherever Dr Baba SahebAmbedkar’s work reached, the Dalit identity and its assertion grew as the Dalits refuse to surrender to brahmanical propaganda and muscle power. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Telangana etc. are examples where Dalits have stood on their own, do not depend on brahmanical narratives and challenge the brahmanical supremacy. Rajasthan, unfortunately, is one state where this was not there, and it resulted in the unquestioned domination of the brahmanical hierarchical political system. Perhaps, it happened in the absence of an Ambedkarite literature and political movement.

Bhanwar Meghawanshi faced discrimination in the Sangh's meetings for being a Dalit, not merely from the upper castes but also from OBCs. He wrote that when he was appointed as a teacher for a village dominated by the OBCs, they got upset that a person lower in the caste structure than theirs is coming to teach them and they were, actually, not ready for that.

Bhanwar not only left the RSS and its camp but,also, decided to challenge it head on. He formed a parallel students’ union to challenge the ABVP in his area. He started Diamond India on January 14th, 2001. This is a publication dedicated to the community. Slowly, he was introduced to Dr Ambedkar's thoughts and extensive writings on the issue of caste discrimination, untouchability and the representation of the Dalits, which opened his eyes. He has been an avid reader, and is, now, using that knowledge to benefit the community.

Bhanwar has not merely campaigned against the SanghParivar, he is also facing a backlash from those champions, who feel they have got the exclusive right to serve the Bahujan communities. He raised the issue of Dangawash Hostel case in Rajasthan, where a Dalit girl student was raped, and later murdered. The accused belong to a powerful community. Now, various outfits in the name of Bahujan did not want to raise this issue further, as according to them, if this issue is raised too much, then, the alliance with the 'community' will become impossible. So, these people started campaigning against him. But Bhanwar has worked all these years to get people justice. The question is - why should a political alliance so weak that it cannot condemn an injustice happening to a girl? If we cannot speak against the criminal act of a person just because it might hurt his‘community’, then we must not expect much from such alliances. They will be just betraying the people and nothing beyond that.

Bhanwar Meghwanshi's book 'Main Ek Karsevak Tha' in Hindi is a very interesting journalistic first person account of his days with the RSS. His command over language is complete. The chapters are short, and hence, are not monotonous, though I would have loved a little more in terms of dates and period. The publisher has put this as his 'atmakatha' or autobiography, but I am sure,BhanwarMeghwanshi has much more to share than the contents in this book. He should write another first person narrative at a later stage, this time, perhaps, sharing his experiences with the Bahujan, the Left and the liberal 'movements'.
 
RELATED ARTICLES:
  1. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Scathing Attacks on Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra
  2. Sangh Parivar’s tortured bid to appropriate Dr Ambedkar
  3. Who was behind the #Gandhi Jayantivs #Godse_Amar_Rahe: India’s Twitter War?
  4. Mahatma Gandhi on Caste: the Varna-Ashrama System
  5. The Mechanism of Caste

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