Q: We see new phenomena in Dalit politics, we see dalit leaders are regrouping themselves, the communities are reorganising themselves, now we used to see lone one side clashes, are we seeing a new brand of dalit politics all together?
A: Whatever we can see today with the perspective of Dalit is welcomed. Instead of taking what is coming to them, Dalits are trying to question their rights, trying to articulate their aspirations. So that way what is seen today is a healthy sign for the community as a whole. As a dalit leader I’m quite happy with the kind of development that is happening for them, I am happy even if such good things are happening outside the Congress party. That is how the community is growing and developing. I believe in one principle that a community cannot be empowered but it has to empower itself. Today Dalits are showing that they can control their own lives.
Q: Despite the undercurrents of resentments and rebellion within the Dalits , we never saw the Dalits standing up to the authority of the upper class, but now the case has completely changed, do you find a generational shift among the Dalit leaders of the yester years and now how the leaders of Dalits are taking the movement forward…
A: Now you can see the amount of effort the Congress party and the centre has put in to empower the Dalits and investing in their education, in expanding their mobility. So all these things are put together to make a new generation of Dalits who really like to raise their voice. Congress party’s immense effort to empower the Dalits is reflected for many decades.
Q: How would you see a phenomena or a outfit called Bhim Army, and how would you see the leaders like Chandrashekhar , do you see them as some sought of an off shoots of the resentment which has built up against the Dalits or so called Dalit parties…
A: There are many such organisations clearly the off shoots of building resentments among the Dalits .Various kinds of subjugations that they are subjected to. Its not recent thing, even there are things from the past. These things clearly show that there is something wrong in the society. Certain section is actually suppressed. Then they are forming the group and mobilising the protest. This is exactly what is happening in the present.
Q: Outfits like Bhim Army, for that matter Jignesh Mewani’s organisation which is working extensively in Gujarat, without the political backup they are holding huge rallies, so how are they making themselves different from the leaders or from the parties who says we the Dalit parties…
A: These new outfits that are being able to mobilise larger number of people to protest. Primarily, the power of social media is immense that helped them to grow. They are able to reach out to larger number of youth through social media and assemble them which were not possible in the past. It was not like that the agenda was weak or the leaders were weaker, it’s just that the technology was not that advanced. They have to put the right kind of effort to find out about the various challenges and polices which will eventually empower the social, political and economical aspects of Dalits . So their agenda is much more challenging that these kinds of outfits.
Q: How is Congress surviving as far as the Dalit outreach programs are concerned? How Congress is dealing with the dalit vote banks where a certain majority of Dalits were your supporters?
A: Congress’s commitment towards Dalits is a old as the party itself. Even during the freedom fighting time, Congress worked for the Dalits . We even fought against untouchables. Ambedkar was the man who worked for their social being. Congress formed many constitutions regarding the dalit rights.