OBC Leadership: Modi vs Nitish

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

Historically the top political leadership in India was in the hands of upper castes—mainly Brahmins and Baniays. During the freedom struggle and later some leaders emerged from the Shudra, Dalit background but nobody could become a Prime Minister of India with push of his own as Narendra Modi did. It is ironical that he could emerge from the fold of Hindutva ideology, which itself bread and buttered caste system in India.

 The Indian national Congress produced several leaders from the womb of the Brahmin community but it was Mahatma Gandhi that changed the caste lineage of its leadership. He himself being a Baniaya, with tremendous political skills, promoted Sardar Vallabai Patel, a Shudra, Maulanana Abul Kalam Azad, a Muslim, apart from Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, a progressive Kashmiri Brahmin. Apart from them the Congress as an organization produced some outstanding Kayastha leaders from Eastern India. The tallest of them were Jayaprakash Narayan and Dr.Rajendra Prasad. Gandhi and his team sidelined Subhas Chandra Bose a militant Kayastha leader. If Gandhi and Nehru were not to allow, perhaps the most talented than them all, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, a Dalit, to be the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution, the post independent India would have traversed on all together different direction. The mere accident of Ambedkar becoming the Chairman of the drafting committee, sustained democracy in India, by not allowing it to go on the lines of our-twin neighbour nation Pakistan.

 If caste backgrounds were to play a key role Ambedkar and Patel would have been close social and ideological allies. Quite ironically the Western education and a deep understanding of socioeconomic and cultural transformation of India Ambedkar and Nehru became more closer allies than Ambedkar and Patel. Patel was more a muscle man than of serious man of philosophical ideas, a quality that was historically never alluded to Shudras. But Ambedkar surprised all his contemporaries by becoming a philosophical, legal and ideological guide of the nation, a quality that was not associated with untouchables by any thinker or philosophers of India. Even if Gautham Buddha were to be alive in Ambedkar’s times he would have been surprised at the philosophical, social and legal knowledge of man, who came from the womb of the untouchable society.

 Quite ironically the first Backward Class leader, who became the Prime Minister of the nation on his own strength is no doubt Narendra Modi. It is not at all ironical that Modi came from the state of Patel, from an ideological background of Hindutva, that never believed in social change. However, rise of Modi from the ranks of Hindutva points to a process of social change in its course. But his emergence as a leader of this level is not because of his positive vision for the poor and lower castes that he claims to be part of. The assertion of his lower caste self was more for vote mobilization rather being an assertion of socio-political transformation. He did not grow with an idea that the problems of the poor Indians should be solved and a nation of equality should be built. His electoral ‘’Development’’ agenda emerged out of his Hindu belief that the poor and the lower castes should never aspire to be equal with others. Thus , when Modi gave the slogan of development, with the approval of the BJP, it was only meant to develop the rich and the neo-rich.

 About his own self he might be considering as a special creation of Hindu gods as an individual but not as part of the social collective of his caste and community. He was never trained to think in terms of changing the living conditions of poor communities. He therefore can serve the rich upper castes of India without having any feeling of guilt for the promises made to the people during the election campaign.

 Now after the 2015 Bihar elections Nitish Kumar has emerged as an alternative to Narendra Modi, quite interstingly from the same OBC background. Though Nitish Kumar comes slightly higher caste Kurmi) than that of Modi (Teli or Mod Ganchi), Nitish trained himself in Ram Manohar Lohia’s ideology of social equality and economic transformation movements. Nitish does not believe in Hindu fatalism as Modi does. First in politics of Lohia than in politics of Jayaprakash Narayan, Nitish got trained himself in the practice of self sacrifice for the sake of poor and oppressed masses. On the contrary Narendra Modi was trained in politics of destruction (Babri Masjid) and rioting ( from 1992 post-Babri-Masjid riots to 2002 Gujarat riots). The Sangh Pariwar organizations had no history of working in the interest of castes and communities that suffered inequality, whereas the Lohiates have long history of working for the radical transformation of the Indian society. We must see the fundamental difference in which the Modi model of development in Gujarat and Nitish model of development in Bihar during more or less same period of rule of these two politicians in those states based their background.

 The OBCs that constitute the biggest block of population of India, have a long dream that a person (man or woman) from their social background must become the Prime Minister of India. Several OBCs who do not agree with the ideology of Modi voted for him to fulfil this dream. But the ideological apparatus that he came from is forcing him to work against the interests of the OBCs. The Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh’s attempts to review the OBC reservation, their agenda of beef ban ( with a principle of cow protection and buffalo destruction), their anti-inter-caste marriage campaigns are only to stop the social change that Mahtama Phule, Ambedkar, Nehru, Lohia, Periyar Ramsami Naicker, Narayana Guru and so on worked for.

 Modi as PM has no agenda to stop the RSS march on destructive course. He is only aiding and abetting their march. The OBCs, Dalits, Aadivasis and Minorities are going to face a massive historical set back under this OBC Prime Minister’s rule. Because the Brahminic forces worked out a design to stop the OBC march to progress only by using the OBC Prime Minister.

 To my mind taking Nitish to that seat seems to be the only solution. OBC Modi should be sent home by an OBC Nitish in the interests of the OBCs and the rest of Indians.

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