Dalit vs Dalit: A Game Of ‘Political Tokenism?’

This Presidential election not only a Dalit vs Dalit but Bihar vs Bihar too.


In India when two of the most prominent social groups (Dalits and Muslims) are facing havoc delivered by Hindutva politics, in this stir scenario the powerful Centre thought to stay on safer side by playing an ‘ace card’ in the name of political opportunism. BJP provided the presidential race a caste twist and with that opposition too didn’t shy away to accept the challenge of ‘political tokenism.’

The opposition aptly picked a Dalit woman candidate from Bihar to take on someone who has been a governor from the same state. Hence, Either Congress contender Meira Kumar or Centre candidate Ram Nath Kovind, in a few days, India will have a Dalit president for the second time in its history. The first Dalit to occupy that palatial building for five years was K.R Naryana from 1997 to 2002.

In fact earlier, father figure of BJP, Lal Krishna Advani, was making the rounds in media for presidential candidature till BJP Chief Amit Shah announced the name formally in a press meeting. History has witnessed that poor Advani, who have nurtured the aspiration at different times to be Prime Minister or President of India was unluckily denied the support by his own party members. It is interesting to note that rise of Modism turned out as the end of Advanism. In 2009 Modi popularity shunned his guru Advani charisma, we thought at this moment he will pay back some dues by pushing him to the top position but once again he brought all our speculations to nix.

A few experts say it’s a sturdy competition to choose one among two Dalits while others have predicted, whether opposition like it or not, NDA’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind is all set to win Raisina race. Both Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar come from the Dalit social group. The political lineage of our country aware of the fact that neither a Muslim nor a Dalit face will ever change the fate of their communities untill their representatives are used in the name of identity politics to retain hegemony and power. If we will go back to 2002, we will get to know that same seeds were rooted there when APJ Abdul Kalam was installed as President of India to bury the stains of communal riots occurred in Gujarat. But did it change Muslims fate? 

Without any learning from past, even after 15 years the similar opportunism is being used to cover every day tortures, attacks and murders experienced by Dalits. Not to forget, 12th President of India, our very first lady to hold the office, Pratibha Patil, who was chosen as a symbol of ‘women empowerment’ just to show that our government stands against women plight and implanting immense efforts to end their woes.

The final battle will take place on July 17 and we cannot predict in which direction the political waves will flow in. For now JD(U), BJD and several other smaller parties came out in support of Kovind. If we sum up the numbers of their votes, they are more than enough to win the battle as it makes around 60 percent. But we also know that loyalties of politicians keep shifting with trend. Eventually, it’s going to be the most symbolic fight where the margin of victory or defeat will matter more than the voting numbers.