in maharashtra, dalits say no to brahmin nationalism again

this news report encapsulates what the 'national' media has been saying for a while: that 'identity politics', the only definition they'll ascribe to anti-caste politics, is dead. consider this summary:
There are around 1.8 crore Dalit-Buddhist voters in the State but only about 20 lakh have voted for Dalit parties, factions.
maharashtra's population is 11.23 crores (census 2011). dalits in masharashtra are around 11.8% (or 1.32 crores, roughly), a majority of them buddhists.. how does the 'mainstream' media come up with the figure of 1.6 crore dalit-buddhists (of a total non-existent population of 1.8 crore) not voting for dalit parties?

and are all the dalits in maharashtra voters? are there no children, people below 18 in the dalit population?around 7.92 crores enrolled as voters in maharashtra.. around 80 lakhs of them would be dalits. actually, it'd be less than 80 lakhs because unlike other sections of maharashtra, growth among the scs during the decade 2001-11 was higher, at 34.3% (as compared with the state average of 16%). that's why the share of the dalit population grew from 10.2% in 2001 to 11.8% in 2011. most of this growth could be attributed to an increase in the share of child population (or non-voters) among the dalits.

64% of all eligible maharashtrians voted in the last assembly elections. we could assume the dalit voters too were 64% (among all dalit voters). that means around 51.2 lakh dalits voted in the 2014 maharashtra assembly polls. and if what the report (quoted above) says is true, that 20 lakh dalits voted for 'Dalit parties, factions', it effectively means nearly 40% of dalits in maharashtra voted for 'Dalit parties, factions'.

does 40% vote sound like the death knell of a certain politics? especially when considered in the context of parties with 25-30% popular vote heading ruling coalitions at the centre and in states?

40% vote seems like a decisive vote of collective disgust expressed against brahmin nationalism, as represented by the congress, bjp and their shudra chamchas - the ncp, shiv sena and mns etc. a clear and unequivocal no to the idea of brahminized india, at its core. you could be sure that the rest of the dalit votes were distributed among the 'national' and 'regional' parties depending on the relative degree of disgust each evoked in particular constituencies. that vote doesn't respresent a cohesive politics as much as the vote for the dalit parties and factions does, and hence can be excluded from analysis in this post. perhaps, in later posts.

writing on the wall: grocery store in wardha plastered with vibrant and clear signs of an alternative worldview 

this despite all the barrage of media, civil society and academic discourse that consistently denigrates, ridicules, maligns and above all erases anti-caste politics. despite all the manipulations, scheming and open violence against, and badgering, deceitful co-optation and isolation of dalit political formations and personalities.

the results, in terms of seats won or lost, are irrelevant when seen from this understanding of the dalit vote in maharashtra. the electoral system itself, as once again made very clear by the last general elections, is designed to help only those with social, cultural, demographic and historic political capital. in such an oppressive environment, even the very birth and existence of dalit bahujan parties will always exude the spirit of heroic exploits, of man going against nature.

so that vote is irreversible, because it expresses an existential motive that goes beyond electoral politics. especially so if one were for once to believe the dumb brahminized media and academia, which can't ever get even the simplest facts (and math) right, and see this as a kind of low point in dalit politics - you can't get any lower than this, right? if even at a such a low point, 40% are saying a clear no, think of the roar you'll hear when the anti-caste parties get their act together.

but i don't believe this is a high point or a low point in anti-caste politics.. ever since the very first elections, the brahminized conception of india, as represented by the congress for a long time, always faced a dissenting majority. this became more pronounced since the sixties when the obcs flocked in great numbers to parties which clearly claimed to identify with them, or at least with the more assertive and bigger castes among them - in up, bihar, tamil nadu etc. the tide has grown much stronger ever since, with the birth of every new party.  

so the dissenting vote has always been very strong (as this was inherently a vote against the brahminized idea of india itself so it has remained the only relevant democratic voice in india, in my view), no matter what the failures or successes of the political formations and personalities claiming to speak for the dalit bahujans. 67 years after the formation of the brahminized indian state, the dalits of maharashtra still refuse to bow down to brahminical hegemony. they should be saluted.

if there was a more level electoral playing field, and dalit bahujan parties got equal access to financial and material resources, to participation in media and civil society - the brahminized 'national' and pseudo-regional parties would have been reduced to mere shadows of their present selves long ago. because the anti-caste parties are the only political formations in india that are informed by genuine secular and democratic moorings, of being rooted in an egalitarian intellectual legacy, thanks to all the social revolutionaries who gave birth to the anti-caste movement - from phule to ambedkar to kanshi ram.

but that is the paradox - why would there be any anti-caste politics if there was any level playing field in any field, leave alone electoral politics?

so no matter how many dozens of obituaries the brahminized classes might churn out for anti-caste politics, what they're in effect trying to do is divert attention from the much more clearly visible death of the brahmin nation and politics. thanks are due to the maharashtrian dalits for driving more nails in its coffin, again.                      


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Nalgondwar,

I was introduced to your blog a few months ago, and I must say, it's a museum of examples of what liberal Brahmins (like myself) should NOT do, but what we do anyway. I have realized that it's one thing to condemn caste intellectually, but quite another thing to internalize the said condemnation

I was wondering if you could make a post like the Buddha wrote 2500 years ago on the "ideal Brahmin." That is, maybe a list of things that liberal Brahmins do that end up being casteist anyway, that we should stop immediately. On the other note, are there Brahmins or savarnas in history-- like maybe Varavara Rao?-- that we can use as role models in the process of "de-casting" ourselves? of I understand if this is not possible, but thank you for your time!

kuffir said...

anon, thanks for the comment. didn't see it earlier. it is my view that there can be no brahmin liberals. you can be only one of those.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Mr. Nalgondwar, though I must say it is disheartening to hear.I understand that I will always be a beneficiary of brahmin privilege, and I will never try and speak for Dalit-Bahujans. but while I won't solve the problem, I desperately do not want to add to it either. I hope that continued reading of your blog will help me do this.

Thanking you again,


Anonymous said...

can you pls elaborate sir? you had written that a brahmin cannot stop being a brahmin ever when you talked about rahul pandita, and this is true. but why can there be no brahmin liberal? can we not conceive of a brahmin who acts in all the right ways?

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