Overview for Hindutva and Dalits: Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis
Why did Dalits join forces with the Hindu Right that unleashed the terrible pogrom in Gujarat against the Muslims in 2002? Why indeed are Dalits, the primary targets of the Hindu caste system, prepared to ally with Hindutva, the `programme of the ultra right political forces in India based on a fascist ideology and majoritarian communal identity'? Yet an alliance has been forged between the two over the past few years. As the editor, Anand Teltumbde, asks, `How could Dalits forget the history of their persecution and help the very forces that persecuted them in accomplishing the latter's fascist agenda?' The Hindutva forces have also engaged effectively with the Adivasi populations, encouraging the Hinduizing of their beliefs and customs, providing social welfare, binding them in a political alliance. The book offers a provocative analysis of why both Dalits and Adivasis are drawn to Hindutva. Teltumbde and the contributors discuss the political, economic and social aspects of contemporary India to point to why those belonging to the same exploited classes, like the Dalits, Christians and Muslims, have been made to turn against each other because of ideological influences. Politically, the enormous significance of the fluctuating alliance between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party has shown that Dalit leaders have preferred to rely on the gains of political power rather than on the old-style cultural and social progressive movements that aimed to improve the Dalits' sense of self-hood and dignity. Increasingly, the political arithmetic of power, as seen in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, has provided real gains as well as serious losses. The book is divided into two parts: the first, comprising eight essays, seeks to provide theoretical and historical perspectives on Hindutva and the Dalits. The second part, also of eight essays, analyses the situation in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, where the focus is on Hindutva's programme to the Adivasis, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Thus there are thought-provoking discussions on the politics of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Jats versus Dalits in Punjab, the relatively new political development of Bhimshakti and Shivshakti (unity of the Dalits and the Shiv Sena) in Maharashtra, and the rise of Hindutva in Tamil Nadu, where the Dravidian movement has declined as a progressive force. The very different experiences of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and the Adivasis of Wyanad, Kerala, are analysed. The discussion on Hindutva and women, especially Dalit women, is particularly acute. The views presented do not offer a consensus simply because none exists. A path-breaking and incisive analysis of Hindutva, this book makes an invaluable contribution to the current debate and takes it forward.