It was a beautiful evening in Ghaziabad as we prepared ourselves for our next street-play of the day in a high density area known as Gamu. It was a narrow lane with a space for a single car and a bicycle. For the act, the exact spot was chosen, the banner was tied with the slopes of the nearby building, the actors recited the dialogues and the drummer took his guard to set the mood for the public. Finally, the show was on.
15 minutes later, we found more than 60 people surrounding us to witness the drama with a message to cast their votes during the coming elections. They got engrossed in the performance so much that the passing by traffic didn’t bother them at all. A few of them came forward to ask if we represented any political party. As I denied, they had words of appreciation for our motto. I happily realized that we were successful at our aim! After around 20 minutes of the performance, we started distributing our pamphlets and handbills with oral convincing thrusting upon voting.
Slowly, as we were on the verge of packing up, the scenario seemed different. The air had something against us too. Suddenly there was resentment among a few local residents about our program. They had serious complains about the content materials we used. A few of them got severely angry about it too. An old aged man, with deep anger, tore one pamphlet in front of me and hurled into the air! He shouted, “Ye sab bakwaas hai. Tum hamarey nahin ho saktey.” It was severely vexing.
The reason was – we didn’t have the picture of the Dr.Ambedkar on the pamphlets but we had all others from Bhagat Singh, Gandhi to Subhash Bose. We realized that we were in an area where the majority populations were from SC/ST and OBCs castes. And for them the figure of Dr. Ambedkar still holds the greatest influence for worship. One of the nearby shopkeepers didn’t even want to talk to us as he had objections too. He announced in loud words that he worships Dr.Ambedkar before any other god or goddess. He exclaimed,”If you don’t have space for Dr.Ambedkar in your heart, we don’t have space for you. He is the only god for us. We are, because of Dr.Ambedkar.” As we didn’t have the picture of his god, we were not eligible for his attention, let alone love and affection.
I personally realized Dalit politics for the first time. Any so-called leader who would exhibit Dr.Ambedkar as his/her idol/god/hero would, quite obviously, garner the votes of the people like the shopkeeper and the old man. Naturally, this is why Mayawati rules here and she will continue to rule until she has this vote bank intact and the better and informed lots don’t vote.
Here the question in my mind was not about the standards of politics. It was, rather, about the psyche of the people. And the term ‘people’ includes ‘me’ too. It includes all of ‘you’ who are reading this. It’s ‘we’, not him or her or them.