Noted Dalit leader, Dr Udit Raj feels that the BJP is seriously championing the cause of Dalits and Vanvasis and the association of Dalits with the party will strengthen not only the integration of the society but also will make the nation stronger. He says Narendra Modi will prove to be a better Prime Minister than the country has ever had. In an exclusive interview to Organiser Senior Correspondent, Pramod Kumar he says he wants to achieve the goal of building a casteless society as envisioned by Baba Saheb Ambedkar Excerpts:
Why this decision to join the BJP?
We were in negotiation for long time and finally arrived at the conclusion that if BJP agrees to bhagidari (share) of Dalits and Vanvasis in governance, we can join hands for larger interest of the society. Being a big political party, BJP has double responsibility in this regard. It is not like Congress, which only thinks of immediate political gains. Congress has never bothered to what the people want and what is happening in the society. Both the BJP and the Sangh think that the Hindu society is integrated. Until there is integration of Dalits and Vanvasis with rest of the society, we cannot build up a strong nation. It is important not only to get political power but also is equally important for a strong and united nation. That is why, I, on behalf of the SC/STs, had several rounds of discussions with the Sangh and BJP leaders during the last one year. They have assured us. I hope a revolution is going to happen in the country after the elections.
Is it change of heart or change of strategy, as you have been opposing the entire Sangh Parivar?
It might be about ten years back, but not within the seven-eight years. You cannot see a single statement on our part criticising the BJP or the RSS. Ten years back too, we had to react on the allegations levelled by the VHP that we are carrying out Christian conversions. That time I had tried to clarify that I have nothing to with any of such activity. Baba Saheb Ambedkar said we must build up a casteless society and we are working for that.
So, you say it is change of heart?
Yes, it is very much change of heart. They misunderstood us then and connected us with the Christian activities, whereas we had nothing to do with any of such activity.
How do you look at Dalit politics in the country today and how do you see the accommodation of larger Dalit interest in nationalist politics?
Now things are changing very fast and Dalits and Vanvasis are inching towards the BJP. The general perception is that the BJP and Sangh Parivar are anti-Dalits. But, the reality is different. They are not anti-Dalits. There is surely a difference between perception and reality. Fact is that they did not seriously think over to win their heart. But now they are doing it. That is why we have joined the BJP. Shri Ramvilas Paswan and Shri Ramdas Athawale are already with the BJP. It is a good sign for future. Only Mayawati is left out and she is worried about the caste equations.
Do you say Mayawati should also join hands with the BJP?
I am not saying that. If she comes, she is welcome. I am saying the BJP is no longer an untouchable party. When I joined the people were very surprised. But, my own followers across the country are very happy.
You have personally joined the party or merged your Indian Justice Party also with the BJP?
We had stopped the activities of Indian Justice Party about five years back. Our main organisation is SC/ST Confederation and we are with the BJP now.
How your entry into the BJP will benefit Dalits all over the country?
It will benefit nationally. We have organisational units throughout the country up to Kerala, Karnataka. Our workers were actively engaged in the organisation of Modi rally in Trivendrum. The message is well received.
How do you look at the leadership of Narendra Modi?
I think he will prove to be better Prime Minister than any other Prime Minister of the country. I have seen his work on the grounds. He is a great administrator. I believe, if Shri Modi becomes Prime Minister, Dalits and Vanvasis will get participation in the governance and shall be equal partners in making India a prosperous nation.
Do you feel the political parties flourishing in the name of Dalits are truly taking forward the caste eradication movement started by Baba Saheb Ambedkar?
I think the BJP and the Sangh have gradually realised it. More Dalits are joining the Sangh fold. It will benefit the society at large.
I am talking about other political parties, not the BJP?
If they were doing it, I would not have joined the BJP. Fact is that if there has not been reservation, the Assemblies and Parliament would have been totally devoid of SC/STs. In other fields also these people have almost nil representation. Sometime back a New York Times correspondent came here and he wanted to meet a Dalit journalist. But he could not find even one.
But upper caste people allege that only the SC/STs are getting all benefits and they are totally deprived?
I do not agree. You tell me even a single sector where a Dalit heads the organisation. Take telecom, construction, news channel, newspaper, capital market, trade, higher education, higher judiciary or IT, Dalits are totally excluded from these sectors.
Can you say that your entry into the BJP will strengthen the caste erosion campaign started by Baba Saheb?
The caste divide will go away only when the people deprived of dignity and respect get it. Casteism will vanish gradually. Education is must for it. When inequality of wealth, dignity and respect is removed the social divide will definitely get minimise. Eventually, there will be an integrated society.
Do you think the regional parties claiming to champion the cause of SC/STs have benefited these deprived people?
They have at least taken care of the emotional part. We cannot deny that they addressed the question of dignity. I think the BJP is now serious to address it. Once the BJP takes it up, the regional parties will get weak.
How do you see your role in the BJP now?
Wherever the party wants to utilise my services, I am ready.
Narendra Modi is still criticised for 2002 riots. What do you think?
The concept of secularism is very much misused or we can say it is used as per convenience. Until, one is with BJP he is communalist, and the moment one leaves, one becomes secular. Earlier Nitish Kumar was a communalist, now he is secular.