Bhima Koregaon violence: Protests bring Maratha-Dalit rift out in the open

Maharashtra bandh: The Bhima Koregaon incident, which has led to a renewed assertion by Dalits in Maharashtra, could have a deeper political impact in the run-up to 2019 Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: January 3, 2018 4:20 pm
Maharashtra bandh: A bus vandalised by protesters at Chembur in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Express Photo: Pradip Das)

SIX MONTHS after the statewide Maratha agitation demanding reservation tested the BJP-led government of Devendra Fadnavis, protests sparked by the violence in Bhima Koregaon, and nearby areas of Pune district, on Monday, which spread to Mumbai and several other areas of Maharashtra on Tuesday, has opened yet another fault line.

The Bhima Koregaon incident, which has led to a renewed assertion by Dalits in Maharashtra, could have a deeper political impact in the run-up to 2019 Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections.

From an electoral perspective, Dalits, who account for 10.6 per cent of Maharashtra’s electorate, can play a decisive role in nearly 60 of 288 Assembly seats. Of 48 Lok Sabha seats from the state, Dalits are seen as crucial in at least 10 to 12.

Follow LIVE UPDATES on the Maharashtra bandh

A day after the violence, the BJP on Tuesday tried to give the incident a Maratha versus Dalit twist, while Congress-NCP called it right-wing extreme Hindutva versus Dalit politics, as reflected in NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s statement: “I am told that some outsider, right-wing elements are instrumental in provoking violence. Dalits have been visiting Bhima Koregaon for years, (but) there was never any trouble.”

Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil demanded a ban on Sanatan Sanstha and Sambhaji Brigade and accused the state government of not acting against perpetrators of Monday’s violence.

Maharashtra bandh: Groups stall train services at Chembur station on Tuesday (Express Photo)

Sources in Congress and NCP said it is their “concerted effort” to use these developments to bring Marathas and Dalits together. And sparking the violence could be the BJP’s ploy to break that, they alleged. What the opposition parties have in mind is a potential political masterstroke: Marathas (30 per cent of electorate) and Dalits (10.6 per cent) together constitute a vote-share of 40.6 per cent. Click here to see Mumbai bandh photos

Traditionally, Dalits have been with the Congress and the NCP but Ramdas Athawale, now Union minister for Social Justice, aligned his party, RPI(A), with BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

On Tuesday, Athawale said, “Nobody should take the support of Dalits for granted…. At present, we support the Narendra Modi government. But if any organisation is trying to foment trouble, Dalits will not stay silent.”

Maharashtra bandh: Traffic outside IIT Powai. (Express photo)

Prakash Ambedkar, chief of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and grandson of B R Ambedkar, dismissed the possibility of Marathas and Dalits/OBCs uniting in the current political scenario. “The highhandedness of Marathas over the last one year has left deep scars among Dalits. Their demand to dilute the (prevention of) atrocities Act has not gone done well with the community,” he said.

Also Read | Bhima-Koregaon clash spills into Mumbai, CM Fadnavis orders probe; Chembur, Mulund worst hit

As for the ruling BJP, senior party leader and Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil said, “Creating social tension through caste conflict does not augur well for the welfare of the state.”

Ambedkar said Dalits “will not return to Congress or NCP”, but neither will they support the RSS or BJP, he added.

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  1. Sanjeev Aggarwal
    Jan 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    How long can the weaker section be kept under the feet !! A spate of attacks in last three years and a half on them has provoked these guys. Their representation among powerfuls is only for token, just cosmetic.
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    1. Vijai Kapoor
      Jan 3, 2018 at 4:49 pm
      Cong and it's Allies are inciting caste agitation and casteism to divide Hindus. They get paid by Ois, ISI China and Vatican for this.
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      1. blackpower 666
        Jan 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm
        wow! here's a privileged gent - a mr kapoor - who has perhaps video and audio recordings of such "payments" made out to the "antinationals". PLS SHARE YOUR EVIDENCE. hindus (btw this is a name given to the pagans and heathens by the external invaders) have always been divided thanks to the caste system a most unparalleled and heinous form of apartheid enslavement dehumanisation. the divisive,fractious caste system enabled a few 1000 invaders to conquer colonise and rule india. BTW what are the sources of RSS funding local and foreign? why does RSS not file income tax? how about the VHP funds? and their fund mobilisation for the ram temple>
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        1. Abraham K
          Jan 3, 2018 at 5:42 pm
          The Bandh is now called off. Find out who paid whom now.
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        2. Samar Pahari
          Jan 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm
          When upper castes assert their caste iden ies that is evil of casteism but when the so called Dalits assert their caste iden ies it is projected as some kind social empowerment! Hypocrisy of so called socialist-secularist of present India knows no bounds. Koregaon was a battle for territory between two rivals one foreign and the other indigenous. The whole intention behind Mahar celebration at Koregaon is to prove a point that they were equal to Marathas in valour. It is a foolish sentiment. Because in the history of India there are examples where a dominant indigenous army was defeated by a very small army of disciplined European Army on many occassion the first example of such a war was the war the French General Dupleix fought with a very small army against a very large army of Nawab of Arcot and defeated him badly. That impressed the local rulers so much that they started seeking the help of French General in settling their scores with their rivals.
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          1. blackpower 666
            Jan 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm
            "When upper castes assert their caste iden ies" the uppercaste mainly the brahmin is have asserted their iden ies for over 5000 years, without any basis whatsoever!!! 5000 yrs of injustice meted out to dalits and shudras will continue. the caste system is the most vile and the most evil system of apartheid genocide enslavement known in human history. the history of dehumanisation, rape, torture, and barbarism that the dalits have had to endure is a blot and a shame in human history. the fault lines of caste are manifest in most indian villages with brahmins/kshatriyas owning prime land followed by the traders. dalits and muslims live on the fringes of the village in ghettos. dalits are forced into manual scavenging, beastly labour, their womenfolk serve as seks slaves/objects from the age of infancy denied entry into temples, schools, denied parit tion in hindu festivals...makes hitler seem like a schoolboy. Till then DALITS CONTINUE TO BE DEHUMANISED AND DEBASED
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            1. Samar Pahari
              Jan 3, 2018 at 5:08 pm
              Does it mean that as a race Indian Muslims were inferior to French?If someone argues like that he must be a crook. About the so called Dalits many have wrong notions that shudras are Dalits and they are subjected by upper castes to social cruelties just to satisfy their caste perversion. Not at all. Sudras are one part of Hindu Varna system who were not discriminated when this system was introduced based on Dharma. But in due course this Varna system petrified and inter marrying among these groups were restricted by which Sudras were not allowed to marry women from other Varna. If a pratiloma marriage had happened between a Brahmin woman and a Sudras man they were driven out of the society as outcasts. These outcasts were subjected to rigorous punishment by way of total social ostracism which in essence meant living at the fringe of the village without any access to basic amenities provided by the society. They had to earn their livelihood by doing the dirty jobs which no one else was
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              1. blackpower 666
                Jan 3, 2018 at 5:12 pm
                to summarise - vedic brahminic tyranny upon the rest of the castes has been ongoing for over 5000 yrs - and the dalits/shudras are proof of this brahmin tyranny
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                1. Samar Pahari
                  Jan 3, 2018 at 5:33 pm
                  prepared to do course of time these outcasts took to these professions as caste groups outside Hindu Varna system. The British people who could not understand the complexities of Varna System imported the word Caste from Spanish like the word Malaria and converted the Varna system into a Caste system and named these outcasts as Scheduled castes.Gandhi went one step forward and called them Harijan. Thus in fact these SCs or so called Dalits are the offspring of Sudras married to Brahmin women and punished with stringent social ostracism as a penalty of violation of social code or law.This social ostracism has run through generations and alienated large section of Hindu society.This has led to fragmentation of Hindu society and weakened it to such an extent that foreigners could easily invade and subjugate India. Hegdegwar while studying medicine in Kolkata Medical College came to realise this reason of weakness of Hindu society and started RSS to unify Hindu society.
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                  1. Samar Pahari
                    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm
                    This incident at Koregaon is an indicator that RSS has to go a long way to remove this weakness of Hindu society working against the foreign aided divisive forces.
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                    1. blackpower 666
                      Jan 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm
                      samar - why is it the lot of the dalits/shudras to go down the manhole, clear corpses, carcasses, fecal matter, used sanitary napkins, used condoms, be denied education, be denied entry to temples,? WHEN IS THE BRAHMIN GOING TO DO THIS?
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                    2. blackpower 666
                      Jan 3, 2018 at 5:47 pm
                      the caste system is absolute bogus, toff, trash and crap! it has no scientific basis. so the only way for hindusim to eman te is to get rid of the vile and evil caste system with such ins utionalised tyranny hatred bigotry racism that it makes hitler look like aschoolboy
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                      1. blackpower 666
                        Jan 3, 2018 at 5:58 pm
                        "Hegdegwar while studying medicine in Kolkata Medical College came to realise this reason of weakness of Hindu society and started RSS to unify Hindu society." all your stuff out here is gobbledygo ok bcoz you are a shameless saffronite and an apologist for that racist bigoted fascist bunch of ga y brahmin naz s - hedgewar, moonje, savarkar, mo the moron bhagwat who are totally irrellevant in the 21st century. no one need admirers and acolytes of hitler and his genocide final solution. RSS ARE THE LEFTOVER TRAITORS FROM 1947. THEY WERE STOOGES OF THE BRITS, RATTED ON FREEDOM FIGHTERS. RSS does not represent india or hindus or anyone else for that matter. India is made of religious ethnic iden ies - hindus buddhists jains parsis muslims christians other religions and atheists who abide by the consitution. not some RSS saffron morons stuck in 3000 BC and hellbent on their fascist ideology. btw - WHEN IS THE BRAHMIN MO BHAGWAT GOING DOWN THE MANHOLE TO CLEAN HUMAN SEWAGE?
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                        1. Andu Bandu
                          Jan 3, 2018 at 9:50 pm
                          Can you please reform or reject that fascist religion called Islam which is the source of so much trouble in the world?
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                      2. Gurvinder Singh
                        Jan 3, 2018 at 2:13 pm
                        India is one, only on MAP. Almost 1000 years back, it was a pure Hindu nation but internally fragmented. Currently too, cast and communal strife has caused internal divisions.
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                        1. blackpower 666
                          Jan 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm
                          1000 yrs ago there was no india - external invaders labelled the pagan dwellers in the subcontinent as hindu. much later, during british times western scholars labelled this pagan anismistic heathen religion as hinduism. you need to thanks the muslims first, then brits for unifying this otherwise balkanised fractious region as india
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                          1. Abraham K
                            Jan 3, 2018 at 4:03 pm
                            What you said is very much true but it is impossible for the ignorant people to understand this historical fact. Both a nation state called India and a religion called Hinduism did not exist 1000 years back. Both of these were the inventions of the non-Hindus who ruled India.
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                            1. Andu Bandu
                              Jan 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm
                              Bloody jihadi, go to pakistan.
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                            2. Gurvinder Singh
                              Jan 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm
                              I hope temporarily.
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                            3. Nitin Deolekar
                              Jan 3, 2018 at 1:24 pm
                              दंगल आणि दगडफेक करणाऱ्या प्रत्येकावर-च असे गन्हे दाखल केले पाहिजेत. खुद्द प्रकाश आंबेडकर याने पण बंद पुकारून दंगलखोरांना चिथावणी दिली आहे. त्याच्यावर पण गुन्हे दाखल करा. दंगलखोर कायदे न पाळता बाबा-सायबाचा शांती-प्रिय बुद्धाचा घोर अपमान करीत आहेत. बाबासायबाचे आणि बुद्धाचे नाव वापरण्याची त्यांना थोडी तरी लाज वाटायला हवी. कोपर्डी हत्याकांडात कोणत्या जातीचा हात होता ते आता साऱ्या जगाला माहित आहे. आंबेडकरी न्यायावर त्यांच्या इस्वास नाही काय? उगा गरीब म्हाताऱ्या बामनावर खोटे आरोप कशासाठी?
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