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Bahujan Samaj Party

BR Ambedkar, the principal framer of the Indian constitution, was an important leader of the Dalit, the former "untouchable" caste. Ambedkar's work helped inspire the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), or the "Majority People's Party". Since the 1980s, the BSP has put forward a forceful critique of Hindu nationalism, and from this period onwards lower-caste politics have developed into a major aspect of Indian life.

The Bahujan Samaj Party was founded by the high-profile charismatic leader Kanshi Ram in 1984. It was formed to chiefly represent 'bahujans' (OBC, SC, ST and minorities), who are thought by some to be at the bottom of the Indian caste system, and claims to be inspired by the philosophy of Ambedkar. It had 17 members in the 2008 Lok Sabha. The party had its main base in Uttar Pradesh.

he ideology of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is "Social Transformation and Economic Emancipation" of the "Bahujan Samaj ", which comprises of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Religious Minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists and account for over 85 per cent of the country's total population.

The people belonging to all these classes have been the victims of the "Manuwadi" system in the country for thousands of years, under which they have been vanquished, trampled upon and forced to languish in all spheres of life. In other words, these people were deprived even of all those human rights, which had been secured for the upper caste Hindus under the age-old "Manuwadi Social System". Among the great persons (Mahapurush) belonging to "Bahujan Samaj", who fought courageously and with commitment against the brutal and oppressive Manuwadi system, for providing a level playing field to the downtrodden to help move forward in their lives with "self-respect" and at par with the upper castes Hindus, especially Baba Saheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's socio-political campaign later proved to be very effective in this direction.

Besides waging a spirited campaign against the Manuwadi Social System, Dr. Ambedkar instilled consciousness among not only the Dalits, but also among those belonging to other backward groups, which continue to be victimised and trampled under this oppressive and unjust Manuvadi Social System. By virtue of his pivotal role in the framing of the Indian Constitution, these groups were given a number of rights in the Constitution on a legal basis to lead a life of dignity and self-respect. But he was fully conscious of the fact that these exploited sections of the society would not be able to get the full legal rights as long as the governments would remain dominated by the Manuwadi persons and parties.

However, being a diabetic and host of other serious ailments, his health did not permit him to lead an active political life for too long. Since 1948, Ambedkar had been suffering from diabetes. He was bed-ridden from June to October in 1954 owing to clinical depression and failing eyesight. He had been increasingly embittered by political issues, which took a toll on his health. His health worsened as he furiously worked through 1955. Just three days after completing his final manuscript The Buddha and His Dhamma, it is said that Ambedkar died in his sleep on December 6, 1956 at his home in Delhi.

The growing support of the BSP also reflects the importance of caste-based politics and the assertiveness of the Dalits in particular. The BSP was founded by Kanshi Ram on April 13, 1984, the birthday of B.R. Ambedkar. Born as a Dalit in Punjab, Kanshi Ram resigned from his position as a government employee in 1964 and, after working in various political positions, founded the All-India Backward, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Classes, and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) in 1978. Although both the BAMCEF and BSP pursue strategies of building support among Backward Classes, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims as well as Dalits, Kanshi Ram has been most successful in building support among the Dalit Chamar (Leatherworker) caste in North India.

In the November 1993 Uttar Pradesh state elections, Ram's BSP achieved the best showing of any Dalit-based party by winning sixty-seven seats. At the same time, the BSP increased its representation in the Madhya Pradesh state legislature from two to twelve seats. On June 1, 1995, the BSP withdrew from the state government of Uttar Pradesh and, with the support of the BJP, formed a new government, making its leader, Mayawati, the first Dalit ever to become a chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The alliance, however, was seen by observers as doomed because of political differences.

On December 15, 2001, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji, while addressing a mammoth rally of the BSP at the Lakshman Mela Ground in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Gomti, declared Kumari (Miss) Mayawati Ji, then the lone Vice-President of the Party, as his only political heir and successor.

Moreover, on September 15, 2003, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji's health suffered a serious setback, and the entire responsibility of the Party fell on the shoulders of Bahan (Sister) Kumari Mayawati Ji. Later, on September 18, 2003, the Party, through a consensus and in keeping with its Constitution, made her its National President.

Being the National President of a National Party, Kumari Mayawati Ji in her address sought to assure that "I would like to make aware people of the country that my Party, the BSP, is committed to not only improving the socio-economic conditions of people belonging to the "Bahujan Samaj" but also of the poor among the upper caste Hindus, small and medium farmers, traders and people engaged in other professions.

The 2007 assembly election in the state of Uttar Pradesh was a watershed in Indias recent electoral history for two reasons: first, the prediction that the election would result in a hung assembly did not come to pass that the electorate voted against the incumbent government and accepted the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was perhaps a glaring example of how discerning Indian voters can be, flummoxing political analysts and pollsters alike. Second, it was clear that the Congress Party no longer remained a catch-all party capable of sustaining the rainbow coalition, drawn on the conceptual category of traditional vote banks.

It made no sense to suggest that the middle castes and Muslims are favorably inclined towards Congress. Furthermore, their support for reservation for the OBCs has surely rattled the upper-caste voters who are already disillusioned with the Bharitya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh. Likewise, the Muslim vote bank of the Congress is now highly fractured and the Dalits are hardly with the Congress since they have found the messiah in Mayawati. The near decimation of the Congress in the 2007 assembly election was indicative of new electoral equations in the state.

On the basis of its ideology, the BSP wants to sound the death-knell of the "Manuwadi Social System" based on the 'Varna' (which is an inequality social system) and striving hard and honestly for the establishment of an egalitarian and "Humanistic Social System" in which everyone enjoys JUSTICE (social, economic and political) and EQUALITY (of status and of opportunity) as enshrined in the PREAMBLE of the Constitution.



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