KANSHIRAM - Dalit Empowerment Hero
It is a foregone conclusion that after Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram was tallest personality on Indian political scene, who kept the flame of Dalit Empowerment burning for over four decades with the same motto, strength ,vision and dedication. Dr B.R. Ambedkar uprooted the centuries old orders and created ways and means for the Indian Dalits to achieve heights in all spheres of life. He fired constitutionally the priestly class man made obstacles created in their social, political, religious, economic, educational spheres. He restored to the Dalits what was snatched away by deceit from them. Baba Sahib’s early death marooned his cherished dreams to see once again the original habitants of India to rule the state and gain their lost prestige and privileges. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram watered this idea with is life long sacrifices and gained much of the lost grounds. He made the Dalits conscious of the privileges enjoyed by Rulers and subjects. On 14 th April 1965, he took the oath “ I will complete the unfinished mission of Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. I shall look after the welfare of my samaj”. He declared Dalit Samaj his family, all Dalit women his sisters & all Dalit men his brothers, he vowed to remain bachelor through out his life & not to acquire any property in his name. He said good bye to his family, family life, family comforts for the sake of cutting slavery chains of his fellow brethren. This he kept as a Buddhist Monk’s word. He got converted to Buddhism To achieve the goal of making Dalit masses a united electoral force to acquire political power and to educate them Sahib Kanshi Ram traveled through out the length & breath of India on his bi- cycle along with his trusted lieutenants.
The ground so prepared through life long suffering of Baba sahib would have become again barren, had Kanshi Ram not ploughed it with full vigor, sown seeds of politico-socio-economic revolution, watered it with his sweating toil and guarded it with day & night bi- cycling. He challenged socio-cultural values of religion dominated order & gave Dalits Samaj a vision to get rid of false religious dogmas, discriminatory religious books & even false man made gods. Kanshi Ram was a great public mobilizer; he understood values of self-respect & collective wisdom of communities to gain political power to use it to their advantage.
Shri Kanshi Ram worked to educate the 85% Indian population comprising of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Back ward Classes and religious minorities to gain their rights to ruleover India. While arousing the inner conscious of Dalits Shri Kanshi Ram coined value based slogans from time to time to give directions to Dalit masses; one such was “Jiski Jitni Sankhaya Bhari, uski utni Bhagidari”. He was perhaps one leader, who kept his promise, proved true to his words. He lived & died as a leader, with out any immovable or moveable property, any bank account, house, land plot or flat in his name. To achieve his set goals, he lived as an ordinary Dalit, took meals in small hutments, wayside dhabas( rural road side eat houses), slept on floor. Once he was seen sleeping night long on stone mettle kept for road paving.He used to keep awake for days & nights to equip him with literary knowledge, assimilate it into practical thoughts & to devise ways to use it for the advantage of his peoples, many of whom were ill fed, ill dressed, naked, illiterate, exploited and miss guided. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram emerged on Indian political horizon as most luminous star, when Dalits were feeling leaderless & direction less, after the untimely death of revered Baba Sahib Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Baba Sahib by dint of his hard labour, scholarly research and political vision prepared ground for Dalit liberation from the yoke of upper caste domination, challenging hate culture of superstitious upper caste Hindus against their Hindu religious brethren, so called Shuders & Ati- Shuders.
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram was born on 15th March, 1934, in Ramdasia or Chamar Sikh family, an untouchable caste of Brahminical caste division. He was one of the seven children of his father Shri Hari Singh & mother Shrimati Bishan Kour. He was born at village Khawaspur in Ropar District of Punjab State. In his family, he was the only graduate. He joined service in Poona city of Maharashtra State in Ministry Of Defence, the Explosive Research and Development Laboratory ( ERDL). Here he came in contact with one Dheema Vana, a suspended class IV Dalit employee of his office. Late shri Dheema Vana demanded Holiday on Dr .Ambedkar & Budha Jyanties. Then the ERDL had ordered cancellation of the holidays on account of Birthday of Baba Sahib and Budha Yyanti and replaced it with the Tilak Jyonti besides declaring a holiday of Dewali. Later Shri Dhemma Vana’s both these demands were acceded to and he was reinstated. Shri Dheema Vana’s heart was filled with faith & love for Dr. Ambedkar. After getting inspiration from Dheema, Kanshi Ram studied literature on & by Dr. Ambedkar. It is said he read “Annihilation Of Caste” several times in single night. He then resigned from service to carry forward, the mission of uniting millions of Dalits, bond them through brotherhood bonds reminding them of their centuries old slavery & sufferings. He shook them to wake from their deep slumber so as to consolidate them into a force to be reckoned with. He single handedly awakened in Dalits a sense of empowerment.
Those close to him tell how hard he worked to built up his first social & educative organization of employees of all SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s & minorities named BAMSEF on 6th Dec. 1978 & then prepared them to launch their Youth’s sangarash Simiti ( Agitational forum) “ DS-4” on 6th Dec. 1981.
To prepare solid ground to get right share in political power, he launched his Bahujan Samaj Party on14th April, 1984.Kashi Ram shook the conscious of those who are under represented in our Parliamentary system and were craving for a change. There by he consolidated masses to work for their own political organization BSP, many voluntaried to work for BSP as “Mission Ka Kaam” His message was so inspiring for his peoples, that once a BSP volunteer was always so. Due to Kanshi Ram’s political vision soon BSP became a National Party & attained third position, leaving far behind many political parties, who were formed decades earlier. Sahib Kashi Ram himself won twice ( 1991 & 1996) for Lok Sabha. But in 1998 he promised not to contest for any political office till he gains strength to win from at least 100 Lok Sabha constituencies . The election winning spree flourished and in UP assembly it won66 seats out of 162 it contested in 1993. Kanshi Ram’s political maneuverability made Behan Mayawati chief Minister of UP thrice in coalition with other parties, but he did not yield to undue pressure from them even at the cost of loosing CM’s. Gadi
The graph of winning seats in Lok Sabha elections also rose dramatically :
Seats Lok Sabha
15 13th & 14th
Lok Sabha His continuous efforts in this direction bore fruits of winning clear majority in 2007 in UP Assembly elections with 208 seats, standing Second on 111 seats& loosing other 60 seats with a margin of less than 5000 votes. Behan Mayawati, now National President BSP was sworn in as Chief Minister of UP State with clear majority. But alas Sahib was not lucky to see the day of farming his BSP government in Uttar Pradesh on its own strength.
With the demise of Sahib Kanshi Ram vested interests have found ways to penetrate in BSP, the brain child of Sahib Ji who nourished it with his Daily blood dose. The glaring example can be quoted of J&K State, where once it won four seats in the State Assembly and now has been reduced to zero. The oft repeated Chamcha Raj by Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram is gaining grounds day by day for getting his sacrifices. During the period of 24 years since the formation of BSP, the INC Govt programs of multinationalisim & New Economic order under late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, or Rath Yatra Of Sh. LK Advani culminating in demolishing of Babri Masjid on 6th Dec 1992, could not sway away Dalits from Kanshi Ram’s Programme of gaining political power to have share in running the affairs of union of India. Credit goes to Kanshi Ram that Dalits having over 85 % Indian population forming SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s or other minorities, have not challenged the Constitutional arrangements, avoided violence against the state or other ethnic groups. Kanshi Ram’s formula that numbers, not violence work in democratic India is no mean achievement for which we all bow to Kanshi Ram.
Like every one else, he had to leave the mortal frame of body, although it is painful for those who are left behind to bear the shock. So happened with Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji. He was not keeping good health for quite some time, but the brain stroke he suffered in Hydrabad during a meeting on 15th March, 2003 proved fetal. He was shifted to New Delhi Batra Hospital and remained under expert treatment for over three years. The unfortunate end came on Monday the 9th October, 2006 at 12. 20 at 11, Hanuman Road New Delhi, the official residence of Behan Mayawati. National Personalities like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha L.K. Advani. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Lalu Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and other paid their homage to the Messiah of Dalits. His funeral was attended by lacs and he was cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat New Delhi on 9-10-2006. He left behind his wish that his mortal remains be not immersed in any river but kept in BSP Party HQ at Delhi & Lukhnow. He qualified his birth and death as per the hymn of Kabir Sahib, a great Mystic “Jab Ham Aye Jagat Main, Jag Hansa Hum Roay, Aisi Karni Kar Chaloo, Hum Hansain, Jag Roay” (On child’s birth, child cries but locality celebrates birth with joy, One must work for the good of the society, so that at the time of death the locality mourns but the person dieing feels joyous )
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram prior to death made Behan Mayawati as his heir & National President of BSP on 18-09-2003. Let us see how far she is able to see the masses united, as many fights have stared appearing in the BSP, and to plug these loop holes. Labour and suffering of Kanshi Ram needs to be kept in mind & his tested formulae of unity followed. If his comrades slip from his ideals, it shall be a sad commentary & bad luck for his now united masses. Sycophancy or Chamchagiri should be kept away from the Dalit affairs. Behan Mayawati shall have to strengthen the party with the same dedication as of Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram pulling it out of present day mess of Chamchagiri or sycophancy.
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram shall be long remembered for his visionary saying “NUMBERS, NOT VIOLENCE WORK IN DEMOCRATIC INDIA” Dalits should win race to New Delhi Gadi by democratic means only, leaving no space for violence against any ethnic group. Let us encourage the anti- status -quo forces to gain National unity.