Bhim Sena finds followers

first_img“It’s a good initiative. No other organisation openly supports Dalits. Whatever may be its larger goals, it gives strength to our community, which is facing oppression,” says Rajnish Gautam.An assistant professor at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University here, Mr. Gautam feels the Bhim Sena is the Dalit alternative to the social outreach of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is, in particular, enamoured by the outfit’s leader Chandrashekhar Azad, a young Dalit man, for his “direct action” approach to dealing with atrocities against the community.“He is one of us. We need a strong man like him. He openly supports Dalits and is vocal. Other [Dalit] leaders take time to act. His thinking is energetic,” says Mr. Gautam.A die-hard Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supporter, Mr. Gautam’s favourable stand towards the Bhim Sena is significant as the party supremo Mayawati has dismissed the fledging outfit based out of Saharanpur as a “political conspiracy” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).But he is not alone. Dalit youth The Hindu spoke to were almost unanimous in expressing their disappointment over Ms. Mayawati’s allegations against the Bhim Sena. They believe that the Bhim Sena rose out of the Dalit movement and the failure of the mainstream political parties to espouse the Dalit cause.Sunil Kumar Saroj, a Pratapgarh resident pursuing his Masters in physical education here, claims Ms. Mayawati was “compelled” to visit Saharanpur only under the “pressure” from the popularity of the Bhim Sena, which has caught the imagination of Dalit youth.“She went to Saharanpur only when Azad was gaining mileage. Usually, she reaches late or does not go at all. Even in Gujarat [the Una incident], she went late,” says Mr. Saroj. The 28-year-old lives at the Ambedkar Hostel, which was originally the State headquarters of the BSP. It is also a hub where Dalit youth from across U.P. form their political opinion and are exposed to the ideology of Ambedkar. But as the controversy and suspicion surrounding the Bhim Sena gathers steam, one can hear clearly divergent views that are critical of the BSP.Mr. Gautam, who is from Gorakhpur, is unhappy with Ms. Mayawati and feels the community would lose its trust towards her if she continues to be disconnected from the current mood.‘Perhaps she is insecure’“She does not respond quickly to burning issues. When somebody like Chandrashekhar, who is one of us, does something to empower Dalits and support them, she starts making allegations. She should not have made those remarks. Perhaps she is insecure,” says Mr. Gautam.After weeks of silence, Ms. Mayawati on Thursday finally spoke up on the Bhim Sena. She not only distanced herself from the outfit after State intelligence bureau reports claimed that it was patronised by her party, in particular her brother and the BSP vice-president Anand Kumar, she went on to allege the Bhim Sena was a “product” of the BJP, propped up to destroy social brotherhood.The State government has also accused the Bhim Sena of instigating and flaring up Dalit-Thakur clashes in the western U.P. district.Satyendra Pratap, a IV year B.Tech student from Hardoi, says Ms. Mayawati’s comments confuse the Dalit movement. “It sends a wrong message. It would create suspicion towards any new leadership emerging from the community,” says Mr. Pratap.He is also critical of the way Ms. Mayawati behaved during her much-delayed visit to Saharanpur recently. “She was seen smiling and waving her hands at the crowd. Did she go there to seek votes or feel the pain of the people whose homes were destroyed? There was nothing to be happy about,” says Mr. Pratap.Akash Anand,a student, says the Bhim Sena is in the nacent stages of a social movement but says its direct action approach is in sync with need of the times.last_img

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