24 June, 2021

Subaltern Speak

Subaltern Speak

On February 24 this year, weeks be­f­­o­re the dates of the general elections were announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi washed the feet of five sanitation workers in a symbolic gesture aimed at countering opposition charges over the ruling party’s alleged bias against lower castes. Come election time and the discourse, predictably, is back to the country’s unwritten election theme, ‘Indians do not cast their vote, but vote their caste’. An ong­oing spat between BSP chief Mayawati and Modi over the PM's OBC status has only deepened the caste fault lines.

However, a recent exodus of Dalit leaders from the BJP camp perhaps ind­icates that something is not quite right with the party’s initiatives since 2014—deification of Dalit icons, to washing their feet and inter-caste dining. The outreach seems to have failed to find resonance with the community leaders.

Five years after storming to power with massive Dalit support, the BJP opted to drop more than 50 per cent of the sitting SC/ST MPs. In 2014, the BJP...

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