Contrary theories

With the Srikrishna panel set to submit its report before the end of December, the specific issue of Telangana and the broader issue of smaller states have once again come to the limelight.
Very few people know that there are two distinct and contrary theories of small states in India. The first theory is that of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. He proposed that theory in the mid-1930s.
But his concrete proposal for the formation of small states and his opposition to the model of linguistic states was expressed in 1953, that too in the context of the formation of the Telugu linguistic state.
His opposition to the formation of big linguistic states was rooted in his concern for protecting the interests of dalit-bahujan masses. His considered view was formulated in an article that he wrote in the Times of India on April 23, 1953.
He said, “In a linguistic state what would remain for the smaller communities (he meant SCs and STs) to look to? Can they hope to be elected to the legislature? Can they hope to maintain a place in the state service? Can they expect any attention to their economic betterment? In these circumstances, the creation of a linguistic state means the handing over of Swaraj to a communal majority.”
While specifically referring to the formation of Andhra Pradesh, he says, “Take Andhra — there are two or three major communities spread over the linguistic area. They are either the Reddys or the Kammas and the Kapus. They hold all the land, all the offices, all the business…”
In other words, Dr Ambedkar was arguing that in any big linguistic state the dalit-bahujan communities cannot wield considerable influence. He was of the view that a weak village, a weak state and a very strong Centre with a secular ideology would provide enough ground for annihilation of caste, at least over a period of time.
Thus, he was for a quasi-federal state with major powers vested with the Central government, which could not be controlled by feudal, casteist forces that operate at the village, district and state levels.
The hegemonic and progressive role of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru at the national level must have weighed on his mind, as against that of feudal, casteist and conservative upper caste leadership at the state level.
Even in the Constituent Assembly debates, Dr Ambedkar pleaded for a strong Centre and weaker states for annihilation of caste and dismantling of feudal economy and backward cultural structures in the rural areas.
Most of the dalit-bahujan activists in the present Telangana movement keep referring to this theory of Dr Ambedkar, for the possible power reversal in the small Telangana state. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati also proposed to divide UP into three small states based on Dr Ambedkar’s theory.
But what Dr Ambedkar did not anticipate was the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allied forces and their coming to power at the Centre.
When Dr Ambedkar formulated his views he was part of the Nehru Cabinet and major leaders of that time did not anticipate that the then Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or Hindu Mahasabha could form a party like the Jan Sangh and later the BJP. They much less anticipated that they could come to power with a clear anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and also anti-Pakistan agenda.
By the mid-1990s these forces came to power. Through the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the creation of a communal divide, they undercut the Mandalisation process. The Gujarat mass pogrom and the Kargil War were worked out when they were in power and that gave rise to a new ambition of teaching a lesson to Pakistan and Bangladesh and moving towards achieving the goal of “Akhand Bharat”.
The BJP too longed for a stronger Centre. With that goal in mind in the mid-90s, it proposed a theory of small states and almost a unitary Centre.
For them such a centralised state was needed in order to resolve the Kashmir problem with much more focused military action.
With this in mind, they manufactured a demand to separate Jammu from Kashmir. To weaken the Communists in West Bengal they wanted to separate Gorkhaland from West Bengal. Even the division of Tamil Nadu into two states was on their cards to break the Dravidian unity. Of course, the Telangana and Vidarbha demands also fit into their larger scheme.
But they miserably failed in the quick implementation of their agenda of dismantling the existing federal structure and could only carve out Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttaranchal because of the opposition from the Telugu Desam and the Shiv Sena.
Though there appears to be a marginal difference between Dr Ambedkar’s quasi-federal state and the BJP’s quasi-unitary state, there is fundamental difference in their socio-political goals.
The BJP and its sister organisations wanted a strong feudal Hindu village, weak states and very strong Centre to achieve their vision of Akhand Bharat by bringing back Pakistan and Bangladesh into their fold.
Meanwhile, they would have created enough fear psychosis among minorities to the point of scaring them to not go to polling booths within the country. They already have the experience of the village and taluka level feudal lords not allowing dalits and tribals to vote.
In the long run, they wanted to “Hindu-ise” dalits-tribals, turn the OBCs into a muscle power force to implement their Hindutva agenda. If the BJP was to come to power on its own nobody would have stopped it from pushing that agenda to a logical end.
Now that the Telangana issue has come to a peak and since the Congress has committed itself to bifurcation, the BJP wants to concentrate on this state.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, with its semi-Shiv Sena ideology and organistional structure run by a family, would be a good ally for this. If the Telangana state is formed under its leadership, the Ambedkar theory will be implemented upside down. The landlords and saffron brigade will rule the roost. Let us keep our fingers crossed.


Really, interesting article.

Really, interesting article. In India, people are so much divided that they are more concerned about caste than nation. Their self-Interest & caste-base Interest are now above national interest,which is very unfortunate for free India.

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