Understanding Dalit identity in Yogi Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh: Kaam, pehchaan, aur rajneeti

Since a little over the past month, there has been a steady spate of reports from Uttar Pradesh about statues of BR Ambedkar being vandalised. Incidents of vandalism have been reported from Firozabad, Etah, Meerut, Saharanpur, Siddharthnagar, Bulandshahr and Allahabad districts. In the latest incident, a saffron-coloured Ambedkar statue was re-painted blue in Badaun district.

In March, the Yogi Adityanath government sent out an official order asking Bhimrao Ambedkar’s name be changed to Bhimrao ‘Ramji’ Ambedkar, after his father’s first name, in all government records. The introduction of this middle name was perceived as yet another attempt by the BJP to claim Ambedkar as a Hindu icon, even as the party tries to inculcate a Dalit-friendly image.

In May 2017, a day before the chief minister's scheduled visit to Mainpur Deenapatti village in Kushinagar district, the Musahar Dalit families in the village were given two bars of soap — Lifebuoy and Ghari, a sachet of shampoo, along with instructions to clean themselves. The incident triggered criticism from opposition parties that accused Adityanath of practicing untouchability.

The opposition has been accusing the BJP of being anti-Dalit for some time, but now MPs from the party have also begun to voice their discontent.

Khabar Lahariya, an independent feminist news platform working out of rural Uttar Pradesh, will produce a series of video reports looking at Dalit identity, with interview-based profiles of professions, locales, cultures and lifestyles associated with caste. ‘Kaam, Pehchaan, aur Rajneeti’ will launch on Ambedkar Jayanti, as part of Dalit History Month. Firstpost will be publishing these reports as well.

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Updated Date: Apr 13, 2018 19:14:11 IST