Remembering Usaa, the writer-activist who lost his way


Usaa (Uppumavuluri Sambashiva rao, (1951 Feb 2019 -2020 July 25), well-known writer- activist was remembered by some of his admirers in a small meeting at Hyderabad to mark his death anniversary on July 25, 2023, a rainy day. A Usaa memorial Volume (cover page given above) in Telugu, Bahula Bahujana Jhanda-Agenda, Usaa, a key source material on him, was released during Covid times (July 2021), and missed the attention even of those interested. This Review is useful to understand not only Usaa’s work but also the role of caste-identity  movements across India that are being weaned away from path of struggles, and roped in by ruling class parties.

Published by Usaa Smaraka Committee,the Volume is a compilation of articles (300 pages), written by many of his associates  on evolution of his views and work until he died (page numbers cited are from that).

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd wrote an obituary : Usaa, The Greatest Revolutionary Barber After Upali (CC August 4, 2020), followed by some more articles that became controversial and  misleading and were contested in the Volume.

Tracing objectively Usaa’s Agenda and its implementation from this Volume, one can see the work is anything but revolutionary: Usaa was an activist-writer with ‘class politics’ for about 15 years (phase-1) until 1986. Then he drifted, faltered and pursued ‘caste-class politics’ for about 34 years (phase-2).

This article takes a look at his transition  and will be useful also to know glimpses of modern Andhra’s socio-political trends, and dalit-bahujan caste politics.   Ilaiah wrote the hyper-boles with his typical casteist arguments – one can even bear with them – but will be shocked as they are founded on and amazingly ‘backed’ by ignorance, prejudices, falsehoods and distortions. They are exposed in this Volume, full of dalit-bahujan politics.

It needs to  be mentioned however that the democrat – editor Binu Mathew of countercurrents, kindly and readily, and much before this Volume, published a series of exposures and criticisms of Ilaiah by different writers, beginning with: How Not To Write Obituaries : Kancha Ilaiah Sets A Negative Example  ( by MA Krishna, on Auhust 15, 2020.). It ended with these lines:  “Given its own historical importance and interest to any serious student of social sciences, this subject merits a brief review, but even that will occupy some space. We shall deal with it in Part-2 of this article..” which however could not be fulfilled.

Even now, we confine only to a few things, now relevant, and examine some controversies (kicked up by Ilaiah) that appeared in Countercurrents (CC).

The CC had published critical articles on Ilaiah, including those written by renowned dalit-born teacher and activist (I. Chandraiah, a  rare teacher who taught maths to more than one lakh students over 30 years) who alone wrote a series of three articles.

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 ‘Divisive and diversionary:’ hall mark of Usaa’s ideological and political evolution

Usaa in his Forewords to Anthology of poetry (p. 43-52) traced how his own ideological views evolved: He in early 1970s was an idealist, reformist (rationalist, atheist etc).   He wrote on ‘Bhagat Singh as Bharat Singh, under Hindu nationalist influence.’ Later by 1975-76, he turned a communist, wrote of  class struggles for over 10 years, during which period, he ‘wrote not a single poem on caste and women’.

‘He left’ (was not expelled) DV Rao’s line around 1980-81, wrote a ‘poem against DV’s authoritarianism,’ (there were no caste issues then; in fact, with party’s help, he got married to a Brahmin cadre who upheld DV line). He in 1981 joined the group of T.Nagi Reddy (line), who had died in 1976 July, who he thought displayed ‘upper caste democratic perspective.’ He later on felt agrarian revolution etc as part of ‘economic determinism’.

It was in this phase,with ‘TN line,’ his views sharpened after Karamchedu massacre, and the ‘that democratic’ party leaders expelled him, rejecting his feminist and dalit perspectives.

Later he shifted to dalit and caste politics : In the name of ‘uniting’ the oppressed communities, divisive and diversionary work has been the hall mark of the life and work of Usaa and most of his associates, who themselves got further divided, and dividing all the time.

Mouthing Ambedkar’s Abolition of Caste, Usaa helped to form over 20 new political caste organizations along sub-caste lines

They are  (listed in p.94) in addition to those existing in traditional society. That they say is the application of ‘class-caste theory’ developed by Usaa and others including Ilaiah.

Many of his associates  have been busy deriding and further splintering communist groups: yet another such new group emerged very recently. This is also handy for the ruling class forces and parties, including RSS camp, with their anti-communist and fascist outlook.

 All the above developments can be seen in the Volume.

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We lost heavily..Let us act responsibly..”

Some caste theorists like Kancha Ilaiah have been uncritically glorifying Usaa and his work, and blindly deriding the Left forces.  Counter-revolutionary and baseless statements abound like “This so called DV group, which does not exist even in two Telugu states, where(as) Usaa Barber exists in every corner.” (, CC)

What is the ground reality as seen by those working with Usaa and such theories? One of the leaders of one ML (late Veeranna) group, mouthing Mao apart from Ambedkar, that worked together with Usaa, mostly in Telangana, reviewed at length, and in the end summed up the experiences of their association of almost 30 years in these words:

“If we see class alone, we ignore castes; if we see caste alone, we ignore class; if we see class-caste binary, it leads to excluding the enemy as being our target. Already all these mistakes took place. We lost heavily. Let us take care to avoid such mistakes. Let us act responsibly.” (p.109)

Who are the enemies, and who the friends? Such is the confusion and pell-mell that one conclusion was: Not the exploiting classes, not the State. “ The three varnas versus the bahujan castes…that is the principal contradiction, as defined by Mao..”, the basis and essence of caste struggle (p108).    

Usaa was called udyamaala upaadhyaayudu, a ‘teacher of movements.’ He had been a writer, singer and speaker for decades. True, he was a ‘teacher’ of  things that were divisive and diversionary. There is a famous saying in Telugu : “The teacher is always busy correcting his mistakes.”

The ‘syllabus’ he taught, even if unintended, always served the ruling classes and election parties; they designed schemes in the name of castes and sub-castes,and weaned away activists. BJP has been adept at using the double-edged sword of castes and sub-castes.

It is a fact that the said ML group and Usaa’s camp too lost “ heavily,” almost nullified. “Let us act responsibly”, he concluded. But it was too late.

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The Volume traced how Usaa drifted and faltered in his phase-2 of 34 years.

Dalit-bahujan caste politics, which they hoped would unite them, vivisected them all the time, and all the more; after all castes and sub-castes are double-edged swords. So many dalit-bahujan outfits appeared, divided, and disappeared, under Usaa. And ruling classes lured and weaned away their cadres, whenever elections came. Let’s see a few:

Usaa was part of an ‘ML Centre’ and its Edureeta ( Swimming against the tide) magazine, formed in 1990, by those who left some ML groups on caste issue. It disintegrated by 1995, and was closed, the Founding group wrote: First, ex-Naxal lead er KG Satya Murty (SM) deserted it, driven by a “careerist tendency (p.88),” and he joined BSP before 1994 AP Assembly polls. The BSP indulged in its typical opportunism, hobnobbed with ruling class parties in AP, and many leaders ( including SM) who joined it left it soon after.

By 1995, Usaa too fell out from Edureeta due to ‘differences’: Usaa had proposed “ building caste organizations, and a united front with them, and fighting for state power,”  with which the team disagreed . All those leaders from ‘upper castes’ had earlier resigned from State committee to facilitate one with only dalit leadership, but that did not stop disintegration and “stagnation”. (p.89.)

‘Dafodam’ ( Democratic Action Forum for Dalits and Minorities) would be a turning point in Indian revolutionary politics, blindly asserted Usaa (p.92) in its inaugural convention in 1994. Later he was a founder General Secretary of Dalit Bahujan Maha Sabha (DBMS), a ‘united platform, an ‘Identity Alliance’ with Ilaih as Vice-President, that too soon disintegrated.

Usaa’s (dalit) colleagues had deserted him to join BSP (which hobnobbed with ruling class parties) before 1994 Assembly polls.

Then came a Lal-Neel united Maha Jana Front (MJF), which contested 1999 polls, after which most of them deserted it and it collapsed (p.102). (Another edition of  Lal-Neel, BLF came up for 2019 polls, and disappeared unsung, CC 2019 March 23). Then Usaa organized  in 2002 a Maha Jana Party (MJP) that entered  2004 polls, and that led to exit of a section, that were led by late Veeranna, which felt it is a ‘Rival centre’ with a wrong politics.

Later those that sailed with Usaa in MJP left him alone when they decided (p139) to merge it with Kapu-caste-based Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) founded by film star Chiranjeevi (who mouthed Phule-Ambedkar), for  2009 polls. PRP itself, with 18 MLAs, was later merged in Congress in 2011.

At one time, Usaa (projected as a BC leader) was manhandled by the Kapu elements, who demanded a BC quota in reservations, opposed by Usaa, who was reduced into a leader of MBCs, and at one time of his own (barber) caste (p.140).

One of Usaa’s admirers, a senior journalist, earlier with  ML groups, commented: Whatever ‘ism’ he spoke of, OBC consciousness was flowing in him, and essentially he was keen on MBC interests. He added: same is the case with Ilaiah Shepherd of BC caste, who has a hidden love for ‘BC leader PM Modi’, even since his Gujarat days (p.158). (see CC 2020 August 18, When PM’s Rama is Ilaiah.)

Simultaneously, Usaa from coastal Andhra, became a votary of separatism: ignoring India’s exploiting classes, he blamed “Andhra region rulers” (p. 118), and supported separate Saamaajika Telangana of dalit-bahujans. But like others of his ilk, Usaa felt it led to ‘dorala (feudals’) Telangana in 2014: Many dalit-bahujans were lured and weaned away by ‘TRS dora’ KCR,  by rewarding a few leaders and henchmen with schemes and contracts.

Most of the others went back to Congress, TDP, and even BJP.  The Congress and the TDP, it is well known, have been exploiting – even now- the sub-caste division of SCs (Mala Vs Madiga, and their sub-caste groups).

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Usaa : Facts Vs Ilaiah’s fiction

The 300-page Volume, curiously, contains nothing, not even a bland message, by Kancha Ilaiah, the ‘long-time associate’ of Usaa. One of the secretaries of the Committee, who is also a member of the Editorial Board (EB), whom Ilaiah had mentioned in his articles, informally clarified the reason: Ilaiah’s obituary (CC, August 4, 2020) and other articles  published in  had many falsehoods and distortions which the Committee detested, and so avoided him. (Ilaiah , who avoided attending the 2021 memorial meeting, did not attend this year too. ( in 2021 he joined it online and spoke a little, he added).

Even facts too well-known about Usaa were misrepresented by Ilaiah, a ‘scholar’ most unreliable. Just a few examples:

“In the 1960s, a poor barber boy going to school in that region was rarest of rare thing. Usaa was put in the school and later in the college by his elder brother,” wrote Ilaiah.

One of Usaa’s associates, his comrade for 50 years, also close to Ilaiah for years, wrote: ‘ This is a half-truth…Usaa was not poor…His family wanted to get him into MBBS. They had such financial capability as well as interest…’ (p. 69).  An article written by Usaa’s elder (cousin) brother (p.36), his guardian until his college days, also says the same.

“He (Usaa) was in a haste…hence joined the most militant Naxalite (Moist) movement to kill the enemies as soon as possible with a barrel of gun,” Ilaiah wrote, against facts. Usaa openly opposed that line. He followed TN line from 1972 until 1985 (p. 136).

“Then he went into a deep tribal area called Kondamodulu and organised tribals to fight for their lands with bows and arrows,” wrote Usaa. It was clarified that he worked there only briefly during 1982-83, and that too mostly as a cultural activist (p. 69).

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Usaa wrote the booklet : A ‘verified lie’

The CC articles with serious distortions cited (by the team) included,  Usaa, The Greatest Revolutionary Barber After Upali, Died of COVID-19, dated  August 4, 2020, a gross hyperbole given the facts given in the book; Who Wrote Kulanirmulana: Voka Marxist Dhukpadham (Sep 9, 2020). And a series by Ilaiah in the later period. (The word Dhuk-padham (sic) may mean the path of dhuk or dukh (grief), an error that was perhaps apt. But the English wording in brackets was ‘Approach’ (for Drukpadham), which he meant.)

“ One major unverified lie that they are spreading is that I did not write the first booklet (Kulanirmulana) (Annihilation of Caste: A Marxist Approach) on caste and Marxism in the history of Indian communist parties, (a stunning falsehood!): Such a simple and straight lie cannot destroy my image as I am a known writer in India and the world over.. The draft was written in 1986-87 and it was discussed in a meeting at Machilipatnam, organised with the help of Amar, who was also expelled from the party along with Usaa and others..”

 The very same Amar verified the lie in the Volume:

“Ilaiah claims it was written by him. It was in fact drafted by Usaa as can be borne out by his typical phraseology. It was verified and ratified by a team of which Ilaiah was only a member…But he declared himself as its author in Foreword he wrote for its Reprint in 2021. He wrote that Usaa helped him, and it is immoral to make such claims…All programs of that period were a team work, and the book was given a final form in a meeting at Bandar”, hometown of  Amar the General  Secretary of the memorial committee, who is  also a key member of the Editorial Board (p70). Amar is an associate of Usaa for 50 years.

“They should know how to verify facts, a primary methodological tool of Marxism,” wrote Ilaiah. False and “immoral claims” is his method. Ilaiah wrote he wanted to know and verify  the caste of his critics as if that would turn his falsehood into truth. For the sake of such depravity, let it be known, Amar is no Brahmin; he is of MBC, not even a sudra Ilaiah wrote about.

The authorship issue was hinted by others also, most of them non-brahmins, all friends of Ilaiah, who have nothing to do with DV Rao or  UCCRI founded by DV. All this was a dispute which Usaa and his friends had with Ilaiah. And so they conspicuously avoided Ilaiah, even from the large ( 25 plus ) Memorial Committee and the EB with 12 members.

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Ignorance and prejudices about Usaa’s early days

So many blunders, within a few lines, and false claims are normally difficult for any writer. But for Ilaiah it is nothing, he is determined to fight truth, and distortion of facts is one of his methods of study.. (CC 2020 August 15).

Ignorance about Usaa as well as his native area, and his own prejudices blind Ilaiah, who for instance wrote :

“ From his student days, he has been a staunch atheist and used to compose songs and poems to motivate the masses. For a boy who came from a poor barber family from a village, Brahmin koduru near Tenali, which was known as centre for cunning brahminism in AP, this was surprisingly a bold step by a barber boy…A barber had no right to enter the temple..” wrote Ilaiah, wiseacre from Telangana, who obviously knows little about that area of coastal Andhra which was part of Madras province until 1953. (We don’t mean to accuse Ilaiah knows all about Telangana, but we see that later.)

Those ignorant of history and culture of this coastal Andhra tract may be taken in by the ‘well known scholar in India and abroad’, as Ilaiah describes  himself.  But those who know a little about them will laugh at such claims: South Indian temple rituals very much involve those from the barber community, as musicians etc. 

Usaa’s was part of an Andhra area that had its own poet-writer, anti-Brahmin movement leader, Ramaswamy Chowdari Tripuraneni (1887-1943), almost as famous as Periyar, who had mutual visits too. Under such influences, the entire area produced hundreds of writers and activists, from 1930s, who became communists, atheists, rationalists, dalit-bahujan activists etc. Usaa was one of them, a third generation writer from that district and area.

‘Surprisingly a bold step’ for Usaa, in a “centre for cunning brahminism” ? Not at all.

A senior Advocate and associate of Usaa for five decades, hailing from that area, YK, a Convenor for Social Justice, wrote in the volume: “ it is a village with a great history of communist movement. There are two communist memorial columns  built in the village: one for an old generation communist leader, and another for a dalit student martyr, Dunna Sudhakar, of Naxalbari period. It is quite natural that Usaa was influenced by such a character of the village.” (p.135.). It is corroborated by others too.

For Ilaiah, Brahminism of Andhra wasbrutal’… Reality is : Andhra (even Telangana) communist party had many many Brahmin-born founder leaders who dedicated themselves for revolutionary causes. It was all the more true for Usaa’s home, Guntur district. There were scores of cadres trained in earliest (early 1930s) party schools here.

Political classes were conducted by communists, Brahmin-born also, in ‘Harijan hostel’ of Guntur, and by 1937 several communist cadres were developed from there, and they later developed into well-known public figures too. Those in the academic field know well (but not Prof Ilaiah) that one of such dalit cadres, Bullayya Lankapalli (1918-1992), later became the VC (1968-74) of Andhra University, the first SC-VC in India. Earlier he was a senior official, later the State-level Director, also of Higher Education. Reformist Andhra also had the first dalit CM in India, D. Sanjivayya in 1960-62.   

(For more on the subject, see the well-documented, History of Communist Movement in AP, Part-2 in 900 pages, 1988, in Telugu).

“In the 1960s, a barber going to school in that region was rarest of rare thing.More so about learning English, in which Ilaiah says he is an author. Dalits of Andhra, even of Telangana, he should know, wrote and published books and magazines in English almost a century ago.

A barber-born comrade from an adjoining tract was so well versed in politics as well as English that by early 1970s, had translated some of DV Rao’s theoretical-polemical works into meticulous English, and they were published.  

GPS Meeting

Photo shows fighting men and women who attended a recent meeting of GPS. Prejudiced scholars nearby don’t see but representatives from 8 states addressed them.

“This so called DV group, does not exist even in two Telugu states, where(as) Usaa Barber exists in every corner,” Ilaiah asserted. What is the ground reality?

In Warangal itself, where Usaa went (into a ‘corner’, some time before his death) to address a gathering of around 30 people and spoke with a casteist mind against DV..And in Warangal district Ilaiah hails from, thousands of oppressed rural poor masses – most of them SCs, STs, MBCs in their caste parlance – have been, for decades, fighting for land,  democracy  and independence, led by GPS (Rural Poor Organization), founded under DV Rao’s guidance.

Only last March 24-25, about 10,000 of the fighting people from all over Telangana attended a mass rally at Husnabad, 40 km from Warangal, and addressed by leaders from 8 states. The adivasi struggles being led by GPS for podu land are unique, and well known. The state, the TRS government, is busy handling them with carrot and stick.

( See reports of Rural poor movements, 2021 Aug 26, on Podu lands, CC 2022 April 30) cultivators-in-dismay-we-wont-leave-the-lands-they-say/

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Even Usaa’s marriage was misused for casteist theories, and against DV Rao

Ignoring social, even personal, realities, Usaa and Ilaiah turned into caste theorists, and vilified DV as a Brahmin and ‘Brahminical communist’: Ilaiah wrote of  “Brahminism in the communism. That was a green snake in the green grass. A barber (Usaa) who knows how to identify snake of any colour anywhere and kill it, he located this green snake in the green grass.”

Ilaiah, with such visceral caste theories, gave a caste twist even to Usaa’s marriage, and blamed DV for it! Such are the wild charges and wily and baseless theories against DV in the Usaa-Ilaiah camp, now still being circulated 43 years after their marriage, and DV’s death (in 1984). In view of their public and political significance, it is worth studying. Ilaiah wrote :

“ Usaa was married to a Brahmin woman within the party. The DVR’s camp tried to set his wife (Padma) against him…She finally became a State Government officer with a Mangali (barber) caste certificate.”

It was a ‘party marriage’ facilitated by the party led by DV Rao – obviously an inter-caste marriage, of two communists, and that involved no rituals. She was then a post-graduate student, a party worker from Hyderabad, wherein caste was immaterial.

In fact, around the same time, there were a few more such ‘party marriages’ of cadres irrespective of caste. Many were women cadre from Hyderabad party units that had trained them into communists. Some of these women hailed from so-called upper castes, and spouses were from so-called lower-castes, as in Usaa’s case. DV himself had played a facilitative role, he attended some. The couples lived, continue to live, happily, 40 plus years after marriage, whether they continued in political work or left it: This volume itself has some of them as writers. They too were married around the same time.

Marriages, women and caste politics: she was converted

“Usaa was the first man to successfully navigate an extreme inter-caste married life between a barber and a brahmin by converting Padma into his caste ..Both of them lived all along with an unfriendly kitchen at home.

That was how Usaa and Ilaiah were committed to ‘abolition’ of caste, by converting the caste of a communist cadre! 

Ilaiah refers to “an unfriendly kitchen at home,” and Brahmin DV Rao’s vegetarianism. DV never preached it, he himself ate meat. But Ilaiah distorts:  “ Like Gandhi, DVR also thought that all Indians should become vegetarian ..” Elsewhere he wrote of  “RSS vegetarianism and DVR’s vegetarianism.”

For casual readers and observers influenced by these caste theorists, it may appear as if the party led by DV caused problems for Usaa and his wife. It goes against all facts, some of which are mentioned by writers in the Volume.

There were indeed problems in spousal relations between Usaa and her, but they were political-organizational in nature. In India, more so then, it is difficult for women to actively pursue serious politics that differ from those of their husbands.

One of the articles (p.66-67), written by Usaa’s closest associate and comrade of 50 years, states some of the facts: “ After split in the party, Padma took the side of DV,’ and Usaa sided with the anti-DV faction. That led to strain in their relations. And after some time, she fell in line and went back to Usaa and joined the other faction.

Thus Usaa and she marrried in 1980 February, and both left (not expelled by) the party (UCCRI-ML) led by DV by the end of 1981. That was the end of their relations with UCCRI led by DV.

They worked in anti-DV faction for some years, and quit. The Volume gives details: Usaa submitted ‘resignation’  in March 1986, and that Group ‘expelled’ him in 1986 November. All the problems, personal and political, narrated were related to that period, 1982-86. Incidentally, that group was led by a ‘sudra communist’ in Ilaiah’s caste parlance, which he omits to say. Perhaps that fact does not suit his pet theories. In fact, he and the writer in the Volume – as also so many others- were also part of that exit from that organization (which he calls as ‘TN party’), as can be seen in the Volume: None of them had relations with UCCRI-ML founded and led by DV and TN.

These writers turned rabid casteists, and anti-DV, so much so that one of these perverts concocted and wrote: “DV proposed Usaa’s marriage (Feb 1980) as part of his scheme to wean away both of them, after party split (in late 1981)!” (p. 66-67.). It was as if the split was contemplated so early, and a ‘scheme’ was worked out! At that time, Usaa was just a cadre, not a leader to be weaned away. Such are the wild charges and wily and baseless theories against DV in some of those in the Usaa camp.     

Padma herself wrote a poem (feminist, titled After All, I am a woman), published in Edureeta 1992 October issue, and reprinted in the companion volume (p.88). She describes the ordeals she faced as a woman cadre in a party led by patriarchal men, who insisted she must play a sub-ordinate ‘role of assistance as wife of  Usaa and mother to the child.’ They are all related to 1982-86 period, in a group was led by a ‘sudra communist’ as per Ilaiah, who however vainly seeks to vilify DV Rao!

Karemchedu Dalit massacre was in 1985 July, and all controversies Usaa had in that connection were with that group, and had nothing to do with UCCRI led by DV (who died in July 1984).

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Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: pet theories that have little to do with facts

Usaa, Ilaiah and their ilk shared and spread  pet theories that have little to do with facts, historical or contemporary. Theirs is a sociology based on ignorance and misinterpretation. Their struggles were often quixotic,  tilting windmills against DV Rao.

Ilaiah and Usaa became so perverse  casteists  that they could not see even what are glaring facts. They became so prejudiced and and blind that Ilaiah wrote: “I have not found a single para which is creative in DVR’s writings…”

“Their’s was a culture of read and recite among their families …write funny documents…as if there was no caste in India What an understanding of concrete conditions of India!’

This he writes about a foremost communist revolutionary, DV Rao (1917-1984)who had an illustrious revolutionary political life of almost 50 years, 17 years under-ground and five years in jail. He was summed up, in a keynote speech, as the ‘father of  the theory and practice of agrarian revolution in India’ (Anand Teltumbde,, CC, 2020 Aug 19), working among, and for, the most oppressed rural poor. Inukonda Tirumali, (author of Against Dora), dalit-born history professor who worked deeply on Telangana of 1940s, also wrote of DV’s role.

But this breed of  great ‘scholars’ and  ‘theorists’ (including on ‘food culture’) do not need or check history and facts to back up their stuff, often laden with bluffs; we will not go more into that now.

DV Rao’s revolutionary writings, including those on caste spanning from 1940s, and a call (1971) to resist militantly caste atrocities (CC July 13,2023), welcoming certain features of Dalit Panthers (1974) are archived in countercurrents, which is read by a blinkered Ilaiah too.

 Revolutionary legacy of  Doddi Komarayya forgotten by Ilaiah Shepherd

The CC archive includes and mentions several articles by DV Rao (2019 July 4), wherein, among other things, he writes of the ‘martyrdom (on 1946 July 4) of Doddi Komarayya,’ a volunteer who, DV recorded since 1946, was born a shepherd, and died as a communist. One of DV’s last articles of 1984, June 22, written three weeks before his death,  also mentions the significance of  Komarayya’s days. But Prof  Ilaiah Shepherd has nothing to do with that revolutionary legacy; he deserted it long ago, and so  can’t see a ‘single para’ by DV that is creative.

DV Rao, also many times,  mentioned Chaakali Ilamma, born as a washer-woman, and died a communist fighter. It was DV who arranged her being photographed in early 1980s; perhaps her only photo. He spent a day with her while writing his monumental history  (1940-51) of Telangana people’s armed struggle. His books ever since 1946, I.e., Ambedkar’s days,  recorded dalit women martyrs, who otherwise would have remained nameless. He did not forget to mention them even in the Statement (PDR) to the Special Court he was tried. All this, decades before sub-altern studies and post-modernists arrived.

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“Modi’s charisma and Hindutva not sufficient”; ‘social engineering’ comes to the rescue

The caste-oriented theories and work have been handy for the ruling class parties, with their own sub-caste cells, that are tapping such primordial groupings for their own ends. The BJP proved more adept in it than all other parties, including Mandal vadis. Now they are bent on it after BJP’s defeat in Karnataka polls, of which the RSS magazine Organizer (May 23, 2023) made a review, and said:

The Karnataka defeat of BJP showed that “Prime Minister Modi’s charisma and Hindutva as an ideological glue would not be sufficient…First time since Prime Minister Modi took the reins at the Centre, the BJP had to defend the corruption charges in an assembly election….The BJP failed to significantly add to the previous vote share..” It noted the defeat of several ministers..

MODI-fied tactics did not work, it was realized. It is in this background that BJP revived the NDA recently; the so-called Brahmin-Bania party roped in dalit-bahujan-MBCs (Paswans, Athwales, Suheldevs, former dalit panthers, PMK etc), and dalit (Pasmanda) Muslim, and christian groups.

One dalit from Telangana, Bangaru Laxman was made all India President of BJP.  BC CM Kalyan Singh was used to demolish Babri Masjid. BJP turned STs into Hindutva and used in communal riots.

BJP Telangana unit recently had its core committee meetings etc, and in the presence of Central (Telangana in-charge) leaders, it was ‘decided in principle that a BC-CM may be considered.’ It was in Hyderabad with 7 Majlis MLAs that Modi gave the call to woo Pasmanda Muslims.

BJP led by ‘BC PM Modi’, it is well known, has been engaged in ‘social engineering,’ an euphemism for exploiting sub-caste divisions for their vote-bank politics. They successfully tried it in UP etc.

Many did not note that SC-Madiga leader of MRPS, Manda Krishna Madiga, a Naxal  cadre in his earlier avatar, had canvassed for BJP in some pockets of Karnataka during recent elections. Meetings were arranged later  for him with Modi and Shah, in Warangal and Delhi. Krishna Madiga was the President, and  Usaa the General Secretary of Maha Jana Front that contested 1999 elections, after which the Front collapsed (p.101), like many others Usaa was associated with. They had pitted themselves against the BSP as well as the  Left in the polls.

Uniting people to expose and oppose the ruling classes, in particular  the RSS, PM Modi and his reactionary-fascist clique, is the need of the hour. But such a thrust is missing in the volume, which reflects the mind of divisive and diversionary dalit-bahujan movements that vivisect the oppressed masses along caste lines, complementing the efforts of the ruling classes. Both sides, ironically, invoke Ambedkar for their own divisive politics. That is the tragedy of the situation.

(The author is political observer, who contributed to 

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