In what should prove to be a warning bell for Gandhians of all hues, a dangerous trend appears to be taking shape, accelerated amidst a sharp upswing of information explosion, especially through the social media. A senior Dalit rights activist, who has been actively involved in organizing the Valmiki community in Gujarat, put out a Facebook post justifying Nathuram Godse murdering Mahatma Gandhi on October 3, next day of Gandhi Jayanti.
While this activist deleted the post 24 hours later when he was told this would send a “wrong message”, when contacted, he told Counterview, “I went to a Dalit rally in Dholka. There I came to know for the first time how Gandhi pressured Babasaheb Ambedkar into giving up the demand for separate electorate for Dalits, allowing us to elect our own representatives to legislatures.”
The activist, who has been in the forefront of the fight for the cause of manual scavengers and manhole workers, continued: “Gandhi betrayed us Dalits. This was pretty evident. This angered me. Why did Gandhi, who is called a Mahatma, blackmail Ambedkar like this this? In my angry mood, I began surfing Facebook, and I found on that day a post justifying Godse killing Gandhi. I copied it and posted it on my timeline.”
|Poster at Dalit rally contrasts Gandhi’s view on separate electorate with Ambedkar’s
An earlier rally by the same organization, in which thousands of Dalits participated, took place on September 24, 2017, the anniversary of the pact between Ambedkar which “blocked” separate electorate for the Dalits, at Modi’s birth place, Vadnagar, pointing towards Gandhi’s “betrayal” of Ambedkar.
Separate electorate, as demanded by Ambedkar in early 1930s from the British rulers, was meant to allow Dalits (Ambedkar called them depressed classes) to choose their own elected representatives, with Dalits having two votes — one for the general candidate and another for the Dalit candidate. Ambedkar believed this was necessary to give proper representation to the Dalits in legislatures, and remove the scourge of untouchability.
Disagreeing with Ambedkar’s move, which seemed acceptable to the British, Gandhiji sat on fast unto death, “claiming” it would divide Hindus, the rally was told. On September 24, 1932, Gandhiji broke his fast, reaching an agreement with Ambedkar, under which Gandhiji, as representative of the dominant caste Hindus, assured Ambedkar, as representative of depressed classes, that caste Hindus would take full responsibility for the abolition of untouchabily from India.
On getting independence, instead of separate electorate, the Constitution of India allowed separate reserved constituencies where only Dalit candidates would fight elections, with all adult voters would vote, the rally was further told. This has created a situation, over the years, where Dalit candidates mainly woo non-Dalit voters, as they know that the Dalit votes would be divided between Dalit candidates.
Macwan regretted at one of the rallies, “Even 70 years after independence and 85 years after the Poona Pact, untouchability has remained intact, and successive governments of India have failed to abolish it despite the existence of stringent laws. Reserved constituencies for Dalits candidates has not helped either. Hence the demand to revert back to the demand put forward by Ambedkar to provide separate electorate for Dalits.”