A statement made by Ramdev on Periyar is on the air and is being circulated. He calls Periyar and other who spoke of Moolniwasi philosophy as ‘intellectual terrorists’. One should not take Ramdev too seriously as he has got exposed completely and if there was a neutral government both ED and IT department would have arrested him. He is the man using religion to promote his products and getting huge tax rebate. The empire that he has built with the total support of politicians could not progress because even if you can fool people some time, you cant do that all the time.
The real issue here is that Ramdev is a clever politician who play different cards different times. When UPA was in power, he played Yadav card and would visit Lalu ji and Mulayam Singh Yadav ji . He remained in their good books for long. Even after BJP coming to power Ramdev spoke as per his ‘strategy’ not to hurt the ‘sentiment’ of his own community and its various leaders though none of his work can ever benefit his community because he is clearly playing in the hands of those who have exploited people for centuries through their caste privileges.
Playing his identity politics with in Sangh Parivar was important for Ramdev to extract the benefit as the Parivar was in need of powerful Yadav and other OBCs who were solidly behind Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. For the Sangh, it was essential to break this unity. Somewhere he succeeded in many ways. Many felt that at least some one from the OBCs is such a powerful and successful business magnet. But can some one really says that Ramdev’s identity really helped OBCs.
This question emerged many times and I had to ask friends please ask him to support OBC quota or ask the Sangh Parivar to agree for proportional representation at every sector or even go for a caste census.
Ramdev has abused almost every Dalit Bahujan icon. He spoke against Dr Ambedkar, he abused Dalits in the past. He infamous comment : Rahul Gandhi goes to Dalit homes for honeymoon and picnic’, triggered huge protests all over the country by the Dalits and Dalit rights activists filed FIR against him. Now, he has again fulminated against Periyar, the most powerful icons of India who taught us that we can get social legitimacy and political power even without invoking Gods, religion and religious practices.
I have said many times and I am reiterating here that north Indian OBC leadership has not really embraced Periyar and Phule as their icons. If these two great icons are not promoted and spread across the northern belt, there would be no understanding of social justice and alliance building with other Bahujan or non brahmin parties. For a better understanding between Dalits and OBCs, it is essential for the OBC leaders of the north India to understand Dr Ambedkar and follow the strategies and path shown by Periyar and Phule. Like the huge Ambedkarite intellectual community that we have today which demolish the brahmanical myth that they cant take Ambedkar head on as they are talking about Periyar, as they know well that Ambedkarite will not tolerate any insult to Baba Saheb Ambedkar, we dont have that much of responses here. The Sangh Parivar knows it, Ramdev knows it and hence they target icons like Periyar because our response is meek and just not that sentimental and emotional which can raise a political storm.
All those who believe in social justice must understand that Periyar was not powerful just because he called Gods creation of stupid and those who believe in it as barbaric. We are witnessing everything that the bhoodevtas created in India but more than that understand Periyar’s huge social reforms in Tamilnadu. The awareness and understanding among the backward communities in Tamilnadu was remarkable. Periyar analysed the corrupt social order and responded it socially and politically. North Indian political parties who represent or claim to represent Dalit-OBCs are not interested in intellectual inputs as they feel it is useless to speak to them as they cant get votes. Rather than starting some though provoking journals they want mouthpieces. Most of them have no link with social and cultural movements. Most of the so called cultural wings are party propaganda machinery which does not go beyond party supremos. It is important to develop the intellectual movement on the lines of the philosophy of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Joyti Ba Phule, Birsa Munda and EVR Periyar. Their work and philosophy alone can bring India’s vast Bahujan masses together. We all celebrate Birsa Munda but how many of us understand the Adivasi context today. Unless we understand their issues and cultural context, we wont be able to get united.
People have given a call for boycott of Patanjali product. Well, most of these product if honestly evaluated by authorities will fail to pass the scrutiny. If we respect our icons and heroes who emancipated the vast Dalit Bahujan Adivasi masses and enlightened them then people like Ramdev, his products and hidden agenda must be exposed and boycotted. Dravidian parties too must respond to Ramdev’s fulmination against Periyar terming him intellectual terrorist. It is shame and disgraceful for people like Ramdev to speak about Periyar and other Bahujan icons in such a way without fully understanding him. I can bet, if he read Ambedkar and Periyar properly, he too would be benefited and will understand that he is merely a tool in the hands of the powerful people and once they have used him, they will just ignore him to languish in isolation. Ramdev must apologise for his shameless remarks and if does not do that, people who believe in social justice and self respect, must boycott his products.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity