Ramdev must apologise for his insulting remark on Periyar: Activists


A statement made by Ramdev on Periyar is on air and is being circulated. He calls Periyar and others, who spoke of Moolniwasi philosophy, as ‘intellectual terrorists’. One should not take Ramdev too seriously, as he has got exposed completely, and, if there was a neutral government, both the ED and the IT department would have arrested him. He is the man who uses religion to promote his products and gets huge tax rebate. The empire that he has built with the total support of politicians could not progress because, even if you can fool people some of the time, you cannot do that all the time.

The real issue here is that Ramdev is a clever politician, who plays different cards at different times. When the UPA was in power, he played the Yadav card and would visit Laluji and Mulayam Singh Yadavji . He remained in their good books for a long time. Even after the BJP came to power, Ramdev spoke as per his ‘strategy’ of not hurting the ‘sentiments’ of his own community and its various leaders, though none of his work can ever benefit his community because he is clearly playing in the hands of those who have exploited people for centuries through their caste privileges.

Playing his identity politics within the Sangh Parivar was important for Ramdev in order to extract the benefit, as the Parivar was in need of powerful Yadavs and other OBCs, who were solidly behind Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. For the Sangh, it was essential to break this unity. Somewhere he succeeded in many ways. Many felt that at least someone from the OBC community is such a powerful and successful business magnet. But can someone really says that Ramdev’s identity has really helped the OBCs?

This question emerged many times and every time I had to ask friends to ask him to support the OBC quota or ask the Sangh Parivar to agree for proportional representation in every sector or even go for a caste census.

Ramdev has abused almost every Dalit Bahujan icon. He spoke against Dr Ambedkar, he abused Dalits in the past. His infamous comment: “Rahul Gandhi goes to Dalit homes for honeymoon and picnic” triggered huge protests by the Dalits all over the country and some Dalit rights activists filed an FIR against him. Now, he has again fulminated against Periyar, one of the most powerful icons of India, who taught us that we can get social legitimacy and political power even without invoking Gods, religion and religious practices.

The North Indian OBC leadership has not really embraced Periyar and Phule as their icons. If these two great icons are not promoted and spread across the northern belt, there would be no understanding of social justice and alliance building with other Bahujan or non-brahmin parties. For a better understanding between Dalits and OBCs, it is essential for the OBC leaders of North India to understand Dr Ambedkar and follow the strategies and paths shown by Periyar and Phule.

There is a huge Ambedkarite intellectual community that we have today, which has demolished the brahmanical myth. Hence, they cannot take Ambedkar head-on or talk about him as they are talking about Periyar, because they know well that Ambedkarites will not tolerate any insult to Baba Saheb Ambedkar. The Sangh Parivar knows it, Ramdev knows it and hence they target icons like Periyar because, in this case, our response is meek and just not sentimental and emotional enough to raise a political storm.

All those who believe in social justice must understand that Periyar was powerful not just because he called God’s creation ‘stupid’ and those who believe in it as ‘barbaric’. We are witnessing everything that the bhoodevtas created in India, but more than that we need to understand Periyar’s huge social reforms in Tamil Nadu. The awareness and understanding among the backward communities in Tamil Nadu was remarkable. Periyar analysed the corrupt social order and responded to it socially and politically. North Indian political parties, who represent or claim to represent Dalit-OBCs, are not interested in intellectual inputs as they feel it is useless to speak about them as these things cannot get votes. Rather than starting some thought-provoking journals, they want mouthpieces. Most of them have no link with social and cultural movements. Most of the so-called ‘cultural wings’ are party propaganda machinery, which does not go beyond party supremos. It is important to develop an intellectual movement along the lines of the philosophy of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Birsa Munda and EVR Periyar. Their work and philosophy alone can bring India’s vast Bahujan masses together. We all celebrate Birsa Munda, but how many of us understand the Adivasi context today? Unless we understand their issues and cultural context, we will not be able to unite completely.

People have given a call for the boycott of Patanjali products. Well, most of these products, if honestly evaluated by the authorities, will fail to pass the scrutiny. If we respect our icons and heroes, who emancipated the vast Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi masses and enlightened them, then people like Ramdev, his products and hidden agenda must be exposed and boycotted. Dravidian parties, too, must respond to Ramdev’s fulmination against Periyar, calling him an intellectual terrorist. It is shameful and disgraceful for people like Ramdev to speak about Periyar and other Bahujan icons in such a way without fully understanding them. Had he read Ambedkar and Periyar properly, he, too, would have benefited from it and would have understood that he is merely a tool in the hands of the powerful people, and once they have used him, they will just ignore him to languish in isolation. Ramdev must apologise for his shameless remarks and if does not do that, people who believe in social justice and self-respect must boycott his products.



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