KANCHA ILAIAH SHEPHERD | 9 APRIL, 2019
The Samajwadi Party’s Rooted Answer to the BJP
Wealth tax proposed on the richest 0.1% of households
The Samajwadi Party manifesto released on April 5 by a young leader, Akhilesh Yadav who governed Uttar Pradesh for five years, gives new direction to the 2019 election. It is a social justice manifesto, containing many shockers for the BJP.
There are many game changing proposals in this Vision Document. Some of the proposals attract educated OBC/ Shudra/ Dalit/ Adivasi forces at once. I will list out just four:
“A cleaner India for rich, upper caste people cannot be built by lower-caste Indians—this goes against the principles of social justice.”
This directly fights the Modi, Shah undisclosed casteist mechanism that goes by the name of Swachh Bharat (pure, unpolluted, white, stainless, clean). The BJP never combined this programme with the teaching of the dignity of labour in schools. Instead they pushed the teaching of texts that teach the indignity of physical work as Indian parampara (tradition, lineage, succession).
And it goes against their clever design of Smart Cities. The lower castes are building big-big national highways for upper-caste fast travel, who do not have a minimum sense of shame or guilt, for the untouchables out there in a dehumanised condition are out on the roads.
They hate the road layers and road sweepers. The BJP’s slogan of Swachh Bharat was given with hateful hearts and is being implemented with unclean souls.
“The richest 10% of the population (uniformly upper caste) owns more than 60% of India’s wealth.”
Hence the SP proposes an additional 2% wealth tax on households with assets more than Rs. 2.5 crore. It is proposing that this richest 0.1% of households should be called the ultra-rich and all their machinations to avoid paying tax should be stopped.
This is a new Shudra economic counter strategy to Arun Jaitley’s ‘from St Stephen’s to Oberoi Hotel’ economics.
“This pseudo-nationalism threatens our national security more than any other external force.”
The manifesto proposes to raise Ahir and Gujarati regiments to overcome what it calls “the pseudo-nationalist threat” to the real productive nation which is using the army as a tool. And is controlling all other institutions of democracy.
It is true that the BJP is trying to communalise the army and also the police. This will have huge implications for all the lower caste masses who are toiling in hot and cold weather to build the national wealth without getting even the minimum living wage, decent and equal English-medium education on a par with the rich upper castes, whose children never know what physical labour is.
If they demand equal rights, the communalised forces will be used against them.
“When elected, we will demand that central reservations are immediately updated to reflect actual caste distribution in the population.”
The RSS believes that it is a great vegetarian army that can protect the nation’s borders better than the multi-cuisine army of the government. It is deploying some retired armymen to humiliate the children of food producers, road layers, foot soldiers on the borders, telling them they should not be in the universities, with or without reservation.
How to stop this kind of anti-Indian haranguing of Hindutva forces, day after day, in every field of life? The SP’s manifesto offers a solution.
The BJP/RSS intellectuals seem to suggest that by definition all producers are anti-national and all consumers are great nationalists. In their nationalism the highest place is accorded to sadhus-sanyasis and cows.
The Shudras/ OBCs/ Dalits and Adivasis are being treated like animals that do not deserve a good life here on this earth. And according to their varnadharma theory they have no place in heaven.
But the BJP/RSS army never gets into the fields of production to till, plant, irrigate and harvest. Its army never grazes cattle in the fields. Its army is there to take away cows from farmers, not to feed them but to worship till they die without food. Their spiritual brain is walking on their heads, hence an animal is put above God and human being. Labouring people are condemned as unworthy and lazy. Non-working sanyasis are worshipped as sacred Indians.
According to them varnadharma is the spiritually sanctioned national parampara, hence upper caste youth should not soil their hands in the productive fields, but should study in the best English-medium schools established for the private sector. They are for the privatisation of everything and the nationalisation of nothing.
Unfortunately, the communist upper-caste leaders in Bengal when they were in power for 34 years did not think of establishing uniform English and Bengali medium schools both in the government and private sectors. Never thought of teaching the dignity of labour.
At the national level no OBC/SC/ST activist trusts the upper caste communist leader now. Their huge and directionless sacrifices have lost relevance. Their anti-identitarian politics are seen as deliberate, upper-caste protectionist politics.
In this situation the SP manifesto takes away even that linguistic sheen from the electoral communist’s vague ideology. It seeks to fight the rightwing Hindutva forces with a forceful caste transformation agenda.
The SP-BSP seem to have learnt that the jingoism of all forces can be fought only with rooted civilisational language. Now the global is local and the local is global.
Their abstract economic theories should be fought with concrete day-to-day living economics. Since the Shudras/ OBCs/ Dalits/ Adivasis cannot employ Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford educated economists to write election manifestos it is better that their manifestos are composed with common sense, which is plenty among the rural productive masses.
If the SP-BSP combine gets 60-65 seats in this election, in UP, a Dalit or OBC individual is likely to become Prime Minister.
It is then that all jingoists will withdraw into their barracks and they can worship cows as much as they want.
It is their constitutional right to do so, and the productive forces will not interfere in their life.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author.