Tuesday, January 31, 2023
HomeOpinionBSP’s ‘Sarvajan’ slogan has been usurped by BJP. Mayawati should worry

BSP’s ‘Sarvajan’ slogan has been usurped by BJP. Mayawati should worry

BSP discarded its Bahujan slogan for Sarvajan. Now, neither the upper castes nor the Dalits have much to do with Mayawati’s party.

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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay is a slogan usually found on posters or banners of the Bahujan Samaj Party. But both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have appropriated this of late.

On the occasion of the 129th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the BJP tweeted this slogan from its official handle thrice.

The slogan, which means ‘for the gain of the many and for the welfare of the many’ has been used by the BSP since 2007.

This is not the first time this slogan was used by the BJP. This has entered into the lexicon of the BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi started using it in his speeches. He eloquently explained in his speeches that other political formations are doing the politics of division and binaries, but the goal of the BJP is to take everyone along. For him, this slogan is a natural corollary to the slogan Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas. which Modi had used during his election campaign in 2014.

Also read: Political compromises damaged Mayawati’s BSP. Chandrashekhar Azad’s party wants to fill in

A religious term becomes political

But now, with this slogan, the BJP has reiterated the works done by the Modi government for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These include the development work done at five places associated with the life of Ambedkar, enactment of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (Amendment) Act and lowering of the income limit for availing scholarships for SC/ST students.

The pertinent question is why has the BJP started using the slogan Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay when it already has a similar sounding slogan Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas?

This has to do with a larger scheme of things by the BJP, especially in the areas where the BSP has its support base.

The slogan Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay has an interesting history. In earlier days, the slogan of the BSP was Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay (for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many). This was part of a sermon given by Buddha to his disciples. In fact, the word Bahujan in the name of the BSP comes from this very slogan.

Bahujan is a political identity that BSP founder Kanshiram brought to the front to bring together the SCs, STs, OBCs and the minorities against the hegemony of the upper castes. It was also meant to signal that they are the real the majority. With this idea, Kanshiram formed BAMCEF, an organisation of government employees. Later, he formed a political party — DS4 — and finally, in 1984, he founded the BSP.

This is how the term Bahujan has changed its contour from a religious-spiritual term to a political term in India.

Also read: The Mayawati era is over. Bye Bye Behenji

BSP’s journey from Bahujan to Sarvajan 

During its initial days, the BSP aggressively pursued the Bahujan idea and gained traction amongst subaltern sections of society. It got electoral successes too, and in 1993, it formed the government in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. But the two parties parted ways soon after a bitter confrontation. In 1995, the BSP was forced to find a new ally in the BJP, and Mayawati became the chief minister of UP in 1995, 1997 and 2002 with the support of the BJP. But that was a temporary arrangement. The BJP succeeded in creating deep fissures between the Dalits and the OBCs in UP.

The BSP drifted away from the OBCs and soon realised that its core Dalit vote is not sufficient to garner majority in the UP assembly. With this understanding, the BSP abandoned the Bahujan terminology and the Sarvajan concept emerged. That is the genesis of the slogan Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay.

This is the time the BSP started organising Brahmin Bhaichara Sammelan and started giving key positions to Brahmin leaders. This strategy paid dividends. In the 2007 assembly elections in UP, the BSP got its own majority for the first time and Mayawati became the chief minister for the fourth time.

Later, the upper castes shifted their allegiance to the BJP. Many of the social groups also left the BSP.

Also read: Rise of Chandrashekhar Azad — from Saharanpur’s saviour to darling of anti-CAA protests

How BJP’s sarvajan is different from BSP’s

The core support of the BSP comes from the Dalit castes and when it talks about Sarvajan, its intention is to retain the Dalit leadership and at the same time attract upper caste voters. Whereas the BJP, with its core of upper-caste Hindu voters, tries to attract the Dalit voters with the Sarvajan slogan.

Interestingly, on the 129th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, BJP leader Ram Madhav launched the All India Dalit Youth Association, an organisation of Dalit entrepreneurs, scholars, activists, thinkers and professionals.

The BSP should be worried. With a government at the Centre and in UP, the BJP is in a better position to attract established Dalit politicians, and it is doing so with a vengeance. At the same time, the Bhim Army has formed a political party — Azad Samaj Party — and trying to attract the Dalit voters. It is using old terminologies and slogans of the BSP and trying to rope in the angry Dalit youth.

The BSP’s political fortress is being chipped away brick by brick.

So, for the BSP, the squeeze is happening from both sides. The BSP is still continuing with its Sarvajan agenda — the floor leaders of the BSP in both houses of Parliament are form the Brahmin community. The BSP has also supported the bill to give 10 per cent reservation to upper caste EWS.

But the moot question is will the Brahmin community leave the BJP and side with the BSP again? Politics is the game of possibilities but, at this juncture, it will not be an easy task for the BSP to win over the Brahmins.

The BSP should worry for one more reason. Its primary slogan is being usurped by a rival political party. Does that mean its primary slogan is so vanilla that it can be used by any political formation? Does that mean that the BSP has lost its distinctiveness in terms of ideology and slogan, and the only thing that makes it unique is its Dalit leadership? Has it lost all hopes to win over the backward classes?

The BSP is now facing these existential questions.

The author is the former managing editor of India Today Hindi magazine, and has authored books on media and sociology. Views are personal.

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  1. The whole world is worried about saving lives and what the writer thinks is caste. Dr. Ambedkar would have been ashamed of this writer today. What a pity!

  2. Well BSP has no traction amongst Dalits except some segments who belong to MsMayavati’s caste.
    By the way ThePrint too is more or less a mouth piece of BJP. Print’s studied silence on the persecution of its rival The Wire and of course the arrest of Teltumbde and Navlakha speaks volumes on the Print’s pro establishment stand
    The day is not far off Well I am leaving the completion of this sentence to the Print.

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