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In Defence of Prakash Ambedkar

Prakash Ambedkar's recent statements that the political reservations given to dalits (scheduled castes) and the requirement of mentioning caste in school leaving certifi cates should be done away with, as also his stand against the hanging of Afzal Guru, all of which have evoked varied reactions, need to be refl ected upon.

Prakash Ambedkar is the leader of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) – a political outfit that seeks the unity of dalits and backward castes of the lower echelon in Maharashtra with some amount of success to its credit. Three times Member of Parliament and grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, with his offbeat views, he is not a stranger to controversies. Some time ago he had created a stir among dalits by publishing a book in Marathi entitled Ambedkar Chalval Sampali Ahe (The Ambedkarite Movement Has Ended). He made two statements recently, creating a furore among certain sections of the public. In the first statement, he said that political reservations given to dalits (scheduled castes) and also the requirement of mentioning caste in school leaving certificates (probably school records) should be stopped. The second statement was against the hanging of Afzal Guru. What is interesting is not the reactions they elicited but the pattern of these responses. While the first statement evoked angry reactions within dalit circles, notably the established dalit leaders and their hangers-on, it was mostly praised and welcomed by others, apparently those from the Hindu Right. The second statement met with a deafening silence from the former and angry reactions from the latter. The so-called progressive India, of course, kept its “dignified silence” on both.

Political Reservations

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