THE formation of Bahujana Left Front (BLF) in Telangana has brought to the fore a question as to how Communists could work together with Ambedkarites. This question arose because of the ripples created by the coming together of these forces. Though they have been distant from each other for some time, the relationship among Ambedkarites, followers of Phule and communists is a natural phenomenon. Like science and technology, communist ideology also did not emerge just like that out of the blue. A great scientist like Newton said that he was only a child collecting pebbles on the shores of sea of knowledge. He said he was positioned on the shoulders of many scientists who had toiled already. He politely submitted that the theory unveiled by him was not to his credit alone but was the continuation of scientific experiments down the generations. Karl Marx also said the same. He clarified that the theory of surplus value, inevitability of social change were the continuation of many movements in the march of history and philosophical researches and not a theory which came to his mind just like that. The communist movement is the continuation of many struggles and reforms taking place in the process of social evolution in human history. It has not just jumped out of vacuum without a historical legacy. Communist movement is the legacy of economic, social, philosophical struggles in human history. Marxism is the modern scientific theory which got developed on the essence of historical experience. That is why communists are those who are carrying forward the legacy of work of many revolutionaries, social reformers and progressive people and the movements led by them. That is why the communists have no illusion that it is they who can succeed in the task of changing the society. Communist ideology believes in putting an end to all types of exploitation, oppression and discrimination in the society. Hence communists are friends, and natural friends of the forces which fight these evils. Didn’t the Telangana armed peasant struggle bring all the economic, social and cultural issues on its agenda? It was this struggle which unified all the progressive thinkers. It was the time of cultural renaissance. It was the struggle which united all the toilers, breaking down the ideas of caste and religion. It was a people’s movement which encouraged inter-caste marriage. So being the successors of that Telangana Armed struggle, the communists consider the struggle on social issues also as their duty. This is but natural.
HEGEMONY AND IDENTITY
It is the capitalists who are controlling the production taking place on the basis of modern science and technology. For them, profit is everything. It is easy to usurp the fruits of labour, by dividing the workers, on the basis of irrational ideology of Manuvada and superstitions which continue to thrive. It is easy to accumulate wealth in the name of profit. Parties like the BJP, Congress, TDP or TRS are the political representatives of the capitalists and the rural rich. Therefore, whoever among them comes to power, would be an expert in utilising all types of divisive tendencies among the people.
That is why they encourage the movements conducted for caste recognition and identity and sympathise with them. They know that, so long as caste is there, caste discrimination will be there. They also know very well that, caste discrimination is a symptom of caste system. That is why, they take advantage of and encourage struggles in the name of caste recognition and their identity. They know that casteism gets further entrenched through movements for caste recognition and identity. That is why the rulers are implementing the tactics of protecting the foundations of caste system by hoodwinking the innocent and oppressed people. That is why they are encouraging the efforts to project the theory of caste recognition and identity instead of abolition of caste system. The rulers want to continue the caste system in whatever name. Discrimination will be there so long as there is caste system. Only with the abolition of caste system, the weaker sections can move with dignity. Hence, what the oppressed people should demand is to uproot the caste system.
Caste associations in the society came first for upper castes. Both power and wealth helped them in this. They only used the titles like Reddy, Chowdary, Sastri, Sarma, Raju etc at the end of their names to denote their caste. The caste consciousness in other castes came later. To use the titles denoting caste at the end of the names by SCs and BCs started very late. However, the term “identity” was not there at that time. Now it has come into currency. Isn’t what is practiced by upper castes, identity politics? Or what is brought up by dalits and weaker sections alone is identity politics? This question has come up. It is proper not to judge all by the same standard. Not everybody is striving for identity or recognition. For the upper castes, it is hegemony. They are not in a situation to crave for recognition. They are not in a situation where they ask for an identity. For some it is hegemony, and for the others it is the question of identity. For some, it is the power exhibited for control, for others it is the cry for identity.
It is the weaker sections that crave for their identity and strive for recognition. It is because of this yearning for identity that the weaker sections are losing in the battle for existence. This is what the hegemonists want. That is why, they encourage the efforts for proclaiming identity by showering false sympathy and affection. They don’t talk about caste discrimination. They skip it. On the question of entering the temples, they will promise building temples in the secluded areas inhabited by the dalit sections. They even offer to bear the expenses. But they do not accept their entering temples along with others. Of course they will be talking about equal opportunities occasionally. They talk more at the time of elections.
Without giving equal opportunities, they drown the people in illusions by raising hopes. If equal opportunities are given, the benefits the ruling classes expect from the caste system will not be there. They benefit only if caste discrimination and inequalities continue. That is why they don’t talk about caste discrimination. That is why none of the BJP, Congress, TRS and TDP leaders had come out against the recent casteist killings which are on the rise. Their effort is to protect the caste system and continue it in the name of equality of castes. Therefore, their words and slogans are always like honey smeared daggers.
STRUGGLES IN VILLAGES TOO
Is the unity of toilers possible without overcoming the hierarchical caste system? Is struggle against economic exploitation and social oppression possible? These are also important questions. Yes, it is true, caste divides and discrimination unites. Discrimination only brings together its victims. If hegemony divides, exploitation unites. Exploitation only unites the workers who are the victims of exploitation. The socio economic issues which divide the workmen also create the necessity of their moving together. Therefore, people are to be mobilised on the issues of land, wages and welfare. People have to be mobilised against casteist attacks, untouchability, two glass system and non- availability of rented houses in towns. People at the grassroots level, in villages and slums have to be mobilised on socio-economic issues. General speeches have limited impact. Concrete activities on specific issues are needed. The unity of communists and social forces will get strengthened and this ideology will grip the people, only in the course of moving the people on to the path of struggles.
IS EQUALITY OF CASTES POSSIBLE?
Some people are complacent that the unity of communists and social forces is only a nine day wonder. Their assessment is that it is not possible for these forces to get united when the castes are getting strengthened. So, they believe that they can manage by enlisting the support of the caste elders. That is why they talk about development of castes. They declare sops for the castes. They firmly believe that people have an affinity for caste. Their assessment is that this innocence can be encashed. Innocence might have been there for some time, might have been there for some generations also. But it is time when they should be given a lesson that weaker sections cannot be kept innocent forever. The toilers do not need caste. Of course, today those who gain by caste are capitalists, contractors, landed gentry and rural rich only. Today people are not so innocent as to believe that there can be caste equality. There are lessons their life experiences have taught them. The experiences of the varna system are still chasing them. This is the time when casteism is spreading its tentacles. That is why the people are not so innocent as to dream about caste equality so long as caste system prevails. Caste means hierarchical caste system. The equality of castes is only a dream. Those having hegemony have to be replied with revolt against discrimination. The quest for equal opportunities has to be through struggles. For that we have to repose our confidence in the people at the lowest rungs of the society. Hereafter we have to assess as to in how many villages and how many slums people could be mobilised. There shall be protests in villages and resistance in villages. The challenges of big babus have to be taken up in the slums also. Only when the bahujans move on the path of struggle steps, will be taken towards power. Dreams will only give momentary happiness. We can achieve power only when we unite, rally and move on the path of struggle. Let us not keep power in somebody’s hands and then start begging for mercy. Let us not keep the lathi in exploiters' hands and bend to receive blows. It is necessary to move forward in struggles to achieve power. We need power to take decisions and not an opportunity to beg. We need power to implement. That is possible only with the power in the hands of the bahujans.