05 September 2016
IT is now becoming clear that the attacks on Dalits in several parts of the country by vigilante gau rakshaks and the massive mobilization of dalits and all those who expressed solidarity with them at Una have spoiled the BJP’s carefully crafted plan to retain Dalit support for the forthcoming assembly elections in key States. In the Lok Sabha debate on cow vigilantism and attacks against Dalits, speakers from BJP-led ruling NDA sought to portray Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “shoot me, not my Dalit brothers” exhortation at a public event four days earlier as a watershed moment in the history of political solidarity expressions for the SCcommunities of India.

The NDA had lined up all its top leaders to make this presentation forcefully. Replying to the debate, Rajnath Singh claimed that Narendra Modi was the only Prime Minister since 1947 to have spoken openly on the problem though crimes against Dalits were a constant phenomenon. All of them asserted that Modi’s “shoot me, not my Dalit brothers” declaration was a path-breaking one by the topmost political leader.

However, a close look at the sequence of events that led to Modi’s admonishment of vigilante gau rakshaks exposed this to be a hollow claim. Instead, what it showed was a rattled and cynical politician who had subsumed all his social and political instincts to the compulsions of acquiring power and holding on to it by any means. It also revealed the apprehensions of “Team Modi” about the party’s prospects in the forthcoming electoral contests, particularly in UP and Gujarat. Central to this fear is the depletion of support among Dalits in the wake of the onslaught against them by gau rakshaks.
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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.