The Azad Samaj Party (ASP) is not just another political party. It is a movement to reclaim the constitutional rights of every individual, especially the Dalits, tribal people, marginalised communities and women. It’s firmly rooted in the ideals of B R Ambedkar and Kanshi Ramji’s political vision of “Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay”. It was Kanshi Ramji who took Babasaheb’s ideals to the people at large and united crores of people under one banner in the name of democracy.
The ASP has been formed at a time when the Constitution of our country is in crisis, democracy is in peril and the citizenship of a large number of people in India is threatened. Questions are being raised on the reservation-based rights of the Dalits, Adivasis and backward castes, and the right to speech is under duress.
The economy is down in the dumps due to the policies of the current government, the youth are on the roads, unemployment has peaked, prices are skyrocketing, corruption is rampant and atrocities are committed with impunity. The ruling dispensation of the BJP has no constructive agenda for the nation; its only agenda is to win elections by any means and enslave the Bahujans. To achieve this heinous goal, the BJP is playing on Hindu-Muslim binaries, propagating hate and resorting to violence. The Delhi riots were orchestrated to create divisions in the nation.
At this moment of crisis, the ASP draws inspiration from the teachings of Babasaheb Ambedkar. We believe that the Indian Constitution will safeguard us from this political calamity. We also believe that we can attain our rights through constitutional means, peaceful protests and mass mobilisation.
If the oppressed are being pushed back to slavery, they will galvanise themselves for a long struggle and there will be peaceful protests in the streets of the country. That is the reason for the creation of this new party. When the weak and poor did not have the strength to make their voice heard, it was Kanshi Ramji who showed them that a movement for rights is about self-respect. He showed them that at the vanguard of such a fight are those who associate dignity with the right of every individual for equality.
Kanshi Ramji taught us how to fight for our rights. But his dream is still unfulfilled. Our aim is to fulfil that dream and bring power to the oppressed and Bahujans. The new political formation’s primary objective and agenda is to ensure that the Constitution is implemented in full letter and spirit — every article and every aspect of it. Political formations like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been fighting for the cause of Bahujans but the mission remains to be fulfilled.
Unfortunately, after the death of Kanshi Ramji, the BSP compromised with his principles, undermined the leadership roles of the Dalit-Bahujans and brought upper castes to positions of power. This has resulted in its electoral decline and there is deep dissatisfaction within the Bahujan society with the BSP. All this has ended up in bringing Manuvadi forces to power. These forces are now threatening the existence of the Bahujan Samaj and making a frontal attack on the Constitution. There has been a rise in atrocities against people from the Bahujan Samaj. The BSP’s decline has created a void. The Bhim Army supported the BSP in previous elections but the party could not convert our support to electoral gain. We also wrote an open letter to Mayawati about the consolidation of Bahujan forces but she did not respond. That is why we decided to fill the void.
It’s time to undertake a parivartan yatra against the anti-constitutional and Manuvadi forces. For this nation to grow, it’s important that the politics of capitalists and people with money bags is replaced by the politics of the poor and Bahujan. We will not bring to power those who pushed us back to slavery. Bahujan leadership and political power are important and the representation of all communities is the only means to ensure the nation’s growth.
Kanshi Ram united Dalit, Adivasi and Bahujan votes and in his movement, gave representation to communities based on their population strength. The unification of Dalit Bahujan agitations, which are scattered today, will be the parivartan yatra’s main agenda. We will show the governments of the day what it means to be a democracy and how to bring about social transformation.
I am the son of a primary school teacher who taught me the importance of fulfilling my responsibilities. In the past five years, we in the Bhim Army were playing the role of the Opposition — facing lathis and incarceration. We never lost our self-respect and never bowed before oppression. The idea to create a party is not to move away from the Bhim Army. The Bhim Army runs on the hard work, sweat, blood and contributions of the oppressed.
As a party, the ASP will adhere to constitutional morality. Our guiding principle will be the long cherished goals of liberty, equality and fraternity. I believe that India can become a strong nation only when all sections of the people are given opportunity to take part in the nation-building process. For me, the nation is about its people.
We will try to end all forms of exclusion and discrimination based on caste, religion, sect, race, ethnicity and language. We will work for the universalisation of education and healthcare. That will unleash the huge potential of the Indian masses. Our party believes in participatory democracy and that will reflect in our party organisation also.
It is now upon on all of us to decide whether we want a Manuvadi Bharat or the Prabuddha Bharat of Babasaheb Ambedkar. It is important to dismantle the anti-constitutional Manuvadi governments. That will start with the Bihar assembly elections.
This article first appeared in the print edition on March 20, 2020 under the title “Why the Azad Samaj Party”. The writer is the founder of the Bhim Army and Azad Samaj Party.
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