Skip to main content

CM washing Rawat's feet: BJP politics to win over Adivasis electorally, Hinduise them

By Ram Puniyani* 

On this 6th July Pravesh Shula, a BJP worker, urinated on an Adivasi boy. Shukla is a close associate of Kedarnath Shukla, the MLA of the area. When Pravesh was peeing; his friend Deep Narayan Sahu was videotaping the whole incident. The person on whom Shukla; out of fear kept quiet, but as the video of the incident surfaced, MP CM Shivraj Chauahan claimed that Dasmath Rawat was the victim. Dasmat denied that. Still he was called by CM to his house.
As the video of this shameful act made rounds, condemnations came forth. Shivraj Chauhan called Rawat to his house, washed his feet, garlanded him and also offered money. CM Chauhan dismissed the caste angle. He said that criminals has no caste, while the upper caste arrogance and Adivasi subjugation is writ large on this incident. He also sent bulldozers to Pravesh Shukla’s house and demolished the illegal part of his house. Chauhan seems to be out to show remorse for electoral goals, so he did go ahead with, washing feet, offering money etc. As the ghastly incident surfaced, Neha Singh Rathore, the noted Bhojpuri Singer posted a cartoon on this and an FIR has been filed against her.
This incident may be just a tip of the iceberg as to what the plight of Adivasis in MP is in particular and other places in general. There are many cases of anti Adivasi atrocities as such. MP has 21% of Adivasis population, of which Kol tribe, to which Dasmath belongs, the real victim may not be known probably, belongs; is the third largest one. There are 47 Assembly constituencies and seven Lok Sabha constituencies where the Adivasi vote matters. In last elections Congress won a majority of the seats in these areas, and this helped Kamalnath of Congress to become the chief minister. It is another matter that through ‘operation Kamal’ his Government fell and Shivraj Chauhan of BJP became CM.
BJP has dual policy as far as Adivasis are concerned. It has been claiming that Adivasis are Hindus. Surely Adivasi culture is very different and their own self perception about their religion is very different. BJPs parent organization RSS has floated Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Forest Dweller Welfare Center, VKA) to Hinduize Adivasis and to co-opt them. To begin with the RSS combine does not call them Adivasis and just calls them Vanvasis (Forest dwellers). Reason for RSS not calling them Adivasis is that the whole Hindu nationalist ideology is based on the claim that Hindus have been the ‘fist comers’ and Hindu Rashtra has been there from times immemorial. If Adivasis are the original inhabitants, then this claim falls flat.
VKA has been very active in Adivasi areas, Dangs, Jhabua, and Kandhmal in particular. Here through cultural mechanisms it has been trying to infuse Brahmanical culture. They have selected icons from Adivasis and projected them with great pomp and show. In Dangs Shabri temple, Shabri Kumbh (congregation) and promotion of Lord Hanuman as the major deity; has been going on. Projection of destitute Shabri as their idol may be a messaging for upholding destitution and deprivation for Adivasis. As the mythology goes, Shabri offered the berries to Lord Ram as she could not afford more. Shabri Kumbhs have been held in dangs and Adivasis areas of MP to culturally win them over. Promotion of Lord Hanuman as the major deity in these areas needs to be given a lot of thought. While in urban areas, it is Lord Rama, why is Lord Hanuman projected in Adivasi areas?
In these areas, icons are also selected from their history and projected to be against Muslims also as in the case of Suhel Dev for the Rajbhar community. In MP Virangana Durgawati Gaurava Yatra had been organized. Also another Adivasi Queen Kamalapati has been eulogized, Habib Ganj station has been renamed as Rani Kamalpati Railway station, and a museum in her memory is being planned. Similarly Kol Jayanti Mahakumbh (Anniversary Congregation) was organized to win over this community for electoral gains and to co-opt them under the hegemony of upper caste politics.
VKA on one hand has been doing ‘seva’ (service) among these communities also. The sociological process of Sanskritzation (emulating upper castes) is very much at play.
At the same time an atmosphere of intimidation has been built up by targeting Christian missionaries working in the areas. The Christian missions, are mostly doing work in the health and education areas. This leads to Adivasis being attracted to Christian missionaries and their work in the field of education has potential of empowering them. The low intensity anti Christian violence flares up on occasions into major frightening events like rape of nuns in Jhabua, burning of Pastor Stains in Keonjhar (Odisha) and the horrific Kandhamal violence of August 2008.
At social level the caste hierarchy reigns supreme, and this Sidhi urination incident is just a sample of that. The plight of Adivasis like other marginalized communities has remained pathetic; their empowerment is on the backburner in the scheme of things of RSS combine. The terror of upper caste affluent is so strong that atrocities against them go unregistered. As such “National Coalition for Strengthening SCs and STs (PoA) Act (NCSPA) NCSPA believes that despite explicit constitutional provisions and guidelines, the suffering of dalits and Adivasi communities across India remains the worst. This community is not only the victim of this scourge of the caste system but also faces institutional discrimination and social exclusion” the report points out. Further, the report reveals that atrocities against Scheduled Tribes (ST) have increased by 6.4% in 2021 with Madhya Pradesh reporting the highest number of cases accounting for 29.8% followed by Rajasthan with 24% and Odisha with 7.6% in 2021.”
The politics being pursued by BJP and its related organizations have a multipronged strategy to win them over electorally by emotive symbolic actions, to Hinduise them on one hand and to maintain the upper caste hegemony on the other. Just by washing feet and offering 5 Lakhs to the offended family is a symbolism bereft of any remorse for the policies being pursued by this combine in the Adivasi regions as a whole?
*Well known political commentator. Click here for source



Still not dead and buried: A rural Punjab move to keep alive the spirit of Naxalbari

By Harsh Thakor  There was a well attended and most lively meeting in memory of Thana Singh of around 2000 persons in Thana Singh’s village of Bhallai Ana in community hall in Muktsar on September 17th, with most encouraging participation of youth. It was a testimony that the spirit of Naxalbari is still not dead and buried with the audience literally reverberating the message of Naxalbari. In spite of every effort of the state to crush the naxalbari movement, it is not dead and buried, as we witnessed here. I was privileged to participate in the event.

Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor  On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour. Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood. Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian versi

Ludicrous how Gandhi is ritually remembered by our leaders with broom in their hands

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed  On every Gandhi Jayanti day, ludicrous scenes of multi-hued political parties’ leaders with brooms in their hands are seen doing rounds on television commemorating Mahatma Gandhi regarding “swachhta” (cleanliness). This won’t do unless there’s cleansing of heart followed by the cleanliness of the poor voters’ stinking areas. Tragedy with Mahatma Gandhi is that he is just ritually remembered by us on the occasion of his anniversaries but he is worth remembering each day owing to his sagacious words that contain wisdom for all ages and in all times.

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Why Govt of India, Sangh Parivar want to stop the use of ‘India’? What's in a name?

By Ram Puniyani  Coincidentally after the opposition parties came together to form INDIA (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance), the ruling BJP is desisting from the use of word India in official communiqués and its parent organizations RSS has issued a fatwa that only word Bharat should be used for our country. While inviting the representative’s participants of G 20, the President issued the invitation in the name of ‘Rashtrapati of Bharat’. Since then BJP is on the track of avoiding the use of the word India in all its pronouncements, saying this word smacks of colonial legacy since this word was given to the country by British colonial rulers. Mr. Hemant Biswa Sarma of BJP said that word India is part of the colonial legacy and should be removed. RSS chief and other functionaries have intensified this message. Speaking at a function at Guwahati Mr. Bhagwat, stated “We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak Eng

Why originality of Gandhi's thoughts, example of his life still inspire people world over

By Moin Qazi*  Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary reopens a familiar debate around his legacy every year. How could a frail man use his moral strength to galvanize 400 million Indians in their struggle for independence from the mighty British Empire? How did Gandhi inspire ordinary people to turn fear into fearlessness and anger into love? What were his tools for fighting colonialism? How could he inspire the world to embrace his philosophy of nonviolence? What can we learn from him today? And is he still relevant?

Pot calling the kettle black: EAM Jaishankar accusing Global North of double standards

By Chandra Vikash*  While addressing a Ministerial Session on Saturday 23 September 2023 in New York on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session titled ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas’, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that economically dominant countries are leveraging production capabilities and those who have institutional influence have weaponized these capabilities. He also cited an example of Covid-19 and stressed that it is still a world of double standards."

In today’s India aggressive violence has become weapon of choice for buying peace

By Harasankar Adhikari  Mahatma (the great soul) Gandhi's vision stands for "ahimsa" (non-violence) and ‘Satyagraha’ (holding of the truth). It is absolutely the beacon of his spirituality. His searches for peace and bliss are within the realm of ahimsa and satyagraha. Although his works are confined to the political movement for India's freedom as the political leader, his lifelong practise is enshrined as the political saint of India( according to Swami Yogananda Paramhans). His devotion and self-sacrifice for the universe are the revelation of his sainthood. 

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Regretful: Kapil Dev retired not leaving Indian cricket with integrity he upheld

By Harsh Thakor  Kapil Dev scaled heights as an entertainer and a player upholding the spirit of the game almost unparalleled in his era. In his time he was cricket’s ultimate mascot of sportsmanship On his day Kapil could dazzle in all departments to turn the tempo of game in the manner of a Tsunami breaking in. He radiated r energy, at a level rarely scaled in his era on a cricket field. Few ever blended aggression with artistry so comprehenisively. Although fast medium, he could be as daunting with the ball as the very best, with his crafty outswinger, offcutter, slower ball and ball that kicked from a good length. Inspite of bowling on docile tracks on the subcontinent, Kapil had 434 scalps, with virtually no assistance. I can never forget how he obtained pace and movement on flat pancakes, trapping the great Vivian Richards in Front or getting Geoff Boycott or Zaheer Abbas caught behind. No paceman carried the workload of his team’s bowling attack on his shoulders in his eras muc