New Delhi: Lakhna, on the borders of Chambal ravines, is a non-descript town 20 kilometres from Etawah. On an upswing after four years of Samajwadi Party rule since 2003, Mayawati was throwing a serious challenge to Mulayam Singh Yadav, even in his own backyard in Yadav dominated constituencies of central Uttar Pradesh.
By some queer stroke of luck or may be design, Behenji nominated Bhim Rao Ambedkar to take on the SP from Lakhna in 2007. If politics is about perception and messaging, then Mayawati succeeded in doing precisely that by winning comfortable majority in the state and getting Ambedkar elected from Mulayam’s bastion.
In 2018, when Mayawati fights, perhaps, the toughest political battle in decades, she has once picked B R Ambedkar from Lakhna to knit a strong narrative irrespective of the outcome of the polls. There is a strong historic link to Ambedkar’s selection in 2018 Rajya Sabha elections. This history has been a part of Dalit narrative as it sought to carve a niche for itself through various strands of identity politics.
In 1946, Dr B R Ambedkar could not make it to the Constituent Assembly as the Dalit leader failed to get elected to Bombay Provincials Polls held in March that year. He instead was helped by Jogendra Nath Mondal of Schedule Caste Federation from un-divided Bengal to win elections to the Assembly that would later draft the Constitution of the Independent India.
At partition, Ambedkar’s constituency Jessore and Khulna became part of East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He was, however, later accommodated by the Congress when a vacancy arose in the Bombay province.
However, in the first Lok Sabha elections in 1952, Congress pitted Ambedkar’s former assistant Narayan Kajrolkar against the Dalit leader. Ambedkar lost by more than 15,000 votes.
He made yet another attempt to enter Lok Sabha when by-polls to Bhandara constituency were held two years later. Congress candidate again won by a comfortable margin.
The two defeats of Ambedkar and the events leading up to the Poona Pact are part of the BSP folklore on treatment meted out by the Congress to the Dalit icon. In resurrecting Ambedkar vis-à-vis Gandhi, BSP has over the years used some instruments of classical Marxist dialectics to carve its own independent and committed electoral constituency.
More than seventy years later, after the first Lok Sabha polls, Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s candidature in 2018 elections has been carefully chosen by the BSP to send across a message to its core constituency.
If Ambedkar wins, Mayawati would have symbolically reversed the injustice done to the Dalit icon in 1952.
And if Ambedkar fails to make the cut, for BSP and its cadre, it would be history repeating itself with dominant political forces ganging up against another Ambedkar in 2018.