Editor's note: Elections to the Karnataka Assembly are scheduled for 12 May and they come at a time when caste is a major topic of debate across the country. The following is the fourth of a five-part series on prominent Dalit activists who have a deep influence on the politics of the state. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5 of the series.
At least nine persons died in protests that erupted against a Supreme Court ruling diluting the stringent provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. With Karnataka Assembly elections scheduled for 12 May, the issue of Dalit rights has taken prominence among all political parties. Most Dalit leaders in the state feel that Dalit votes will be divided among all parties except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In an interview with Firstpost, R Mohan Raj, state president of the Republic Party of India and former Dalit Sangharsh Samiti leader, said that the Dalit community today lacks strong leaders. He added that though there are political parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Republican Party of India that are associated with the Dalit movement in India, lack of proper implementation of the Constitution has led to the rise in violation of Dalit rights. “Our major demand is to implement the Constitution,” he said.
Raj cited historical facts to locate the position of Dalits in the present Indian society. Vocally criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raj said the prime minister should have some responsibility and commitment towards his work.
"The Parliament is bigger than the Supreme Court," he said, adding that the SC/ST (POA) Act could have been brought under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution that guarantees land rights to minority communities. Raj believes the present situation (of protests against the judiciary) is a result of years of atrocities committed against Dalits.
"In 1948, Babasaheb BR Ambedkar said that the subdued SC/ST or OBC communities will remain docile only up to a certain point, after which they will lose their cool. We are witnessing his words in north India today,” he said.
The Video was created by Swetha Gowda. The authors are members of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media startup.
Updated Date: Apr 28, 2018 16:32 PM