Remembering Lohia on his 53rd Death Anniversary

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By Frank Huzur & Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Today we remember Ram Manohar Lohia on his 53rd death anniversary. Lohia was a political giant who took on Nehru when the rest of the nation was in awe of him.

To defeat Nehru, Lohia did not have any issues with the Sangh Parivar. In fact, this remain the biggest tragedy of the independent India that the anti Congressism actually helped the rabid communal elements.

Similar thing happened when JP launched his ‘Sampoorn Kranti’ which became a ‘sawarna kranti’ but unlike JP whose stand on caste discrimination and brahmanism was not that open and categorical as that of Ram Manohar Lohia.

Lohia knew the caste arithmetic but politics is not merely caste and communal calculations but beyond that. Lohia’s obsession with anti congressism actually damaged the socialist movement.

He could never realise that the Sangh Parivar and its various offshoots are equally dangerous for the integrity of the country.

While it was important to fill the opposition space and fight against Congress party’s authoritarianism yet in doing so, any legitimacy to communal fascist forces was detrimental.

The result was that everywhere the Hindutva protagonists rode on the piggyback of the Samajwadis and decimated them.

Jai Prakash gave them further legitimacy during the anti emergency movement. Janata government came to power in 1977 and broke on the question of double membership of the some of the members of Jan Sangh with the RSS.

While both Lohia and JP were great socialists yet frankly speaking they never challenged the brahmanical hegemony.

The result is that OBCs under Lohiaism in Uttar Pradesh, though, got organised, yet could not create an alternative of the brahmanical hegemony.

Challenging Congress politically and creating an alternative of brahmanism are two different things. You can not challenge brahmanism by being part of it.

But one thing is clear. Lohia was a definitely a far superior intellectual politician and that time it was difficult to take Nehru head on as he himself had equally strong views, a great orator and a politician who people worshipped.

My only regret is why Lohia could not meet Dr Ambedkar.

Though we have information now which suggest that Lohia wanted Ambedkar to be the leader of RPI and had shown willingness to join the movement led by Dr Ambedkar but it was unfortunate that Dr Ambedkar passed away in December 1956 and the party he envisioned actually could not do anything specific related to this.

It is also a fact that RPI had a strong presence in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab for many years.

Whatever Lohia was politically, socio-culturally, he never challanged the brahmanical hegemony. I am not sure what made him suggest that Rama and Krishna were the ‘icons’ of India despite possessing a rational mind.

Dr Ambedkar and many others have refused to accept this and we know it well through the Riddles of Hinduism.

Right now, the challenge is big and the movement of OBCs have moved ahead. Lohia’s fault was that he could not create a visionary leadership which could take over the movement.

In the name of Bahujans, OBC leaders in Uttar Pradesh remained chanting Lohia and remained foot soldiers of the Brahmanical social order. It is time they now join the broader Dalit Bahujan movement led by Jyoti Ba Phule, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and EVR Periyar who gave people of India a new identity and strength to fight against all kinds of social evils and provided them alternative ways.

The varnashram dharma is using all the tricks to keep the foot soldiers in its fold. Lohia did not have the strength to fight against it as he did not provide any alternative to it which could challenge the caste hegemony of the Dwijas. He did not give any alternative cultural vision which Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar provided to people.

We dont support Lohia’s Hindi fanaticism or anti Englishism as it will not take India anywhere particularly its vast Dalit Bahujan masses who have been denied right to education and knowledge by the Varna-ashram dharma.

We need a counter culture of India’s Bahujan masses, that is humanistic in nature where the philosophy revolve around human being and not laying down our lives for countless Gods or goddesses.

Of course, we dont deny his great contribution to politicise the issues of OBCs but now the battle is not merely political but cultural too.

Lohiaism is status quoism and end up at Gandhism which the vast Dalit Bahujan masses have already rejected as it is not made for them.

Ram Manohar Lohia nevertheless must be remembered for his great role to popularise socialism and create an alternative to Nehru’s policies but how was it possible by allying with the Sangh Parivar ?

Ram Manohar Lohia:: “I prefer the spade to the throne or crown. We should build our nation. Our India has a vast area and huge population. We don’t have big machinery. But we have plenty of manpower. Hence we must utilise it to the fullest extent. That will be possible only if everyone wields the spade. If every healthy person donates an hour’s labour a day to the cause of the country, Bharat will soon be rich.”

Of course, in his life the spade and prison were like two sides of the same coin.

In 57 years life span, Lohia was jailed for 20 times. The Nehru led Congress government of Independent India put him in jail as many as 12 times.

Lohia never had faith in violence. He was a great torch bearer of Gandhian Socialism. By nature as well as training he was non-violent. He hated destructive tendencies. However, he never lost patience.

Time and again he made it clear that non-violent politics was not a facade for cowardice.

It is our tradition as Indians to remain gentle for a hundred years than to pounce like a tiger in a matter of seconds.

Lohia felt it was his duty to fight injustice, whether it was on a small scale or a big scale.

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