Republishing on the 83rd Birth anniversary (15th March ) of Manyawar Kanshiram , founder of Bahujan Samajwadi Party.
This interview with Manyawar Kanshi Ram Saheb was first published in The Illustrated Weekly Of India on March 8, 1987
Question: Why are you so hostile to all the national parties, especially the communists?
Kanshi Ram: To my mind, all parties represent the forces of status quo. For us, politics is the politics of transformation. The existing parties are the reason for the status quo. That is why there has been no upward mobility for the backward communities. The communist parties have become the biggest stumbling block in this regard. They keep talking about change, but work for status quo. The BJP is better, they never talk about change. So people never feel duped. Parties like the Congress and communists talk about abolishing poverty, but work towards keeping people poor. If the poor are not kept poor, these people cannot remain in their seats.
Question: At the Congress centenary, Arun Singh said your emergence was not healthy for the national ethos.
Kanshi Ram: He is the grandson of a maharaja who never kept the interests of the nation in mind. Nationalism to him is feudalism. NATIONALISM TO ME IS THE MASSES OF INDIA. I BELIEVE IN THE TWO NATION THEORY: THOSE WHO OPPRESS AND THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED .What does the grandson of a wretched maharaja know about nationalism? What can we expect from Arun Singh than such things?
Question: Why is your cadre so hostile to Mahatma Gandhi?
Kanshi Ram: Gandhi is the root of every thing. I want change. Dr. Ambedkar wanted change. But Gandhi was the custodian of the status quo. He wanted Shudras to remain Shudras. Gandhi worked to keep the nation divided. We are working to unite the nation and erase all artificial divisions.
Question: Why has your movement taken so much time to become a reality?
Kanshi Ram: Upto 1971, I was not so much interested. I was working with RPI. Then I found I was marching towards a ship that others were deserting. It took a long time to prepare myself and others. We had to collect a lot of information, so that we could know how to prepare society and build a cadre. Preparing society initially took a long time. Now we are moving at a tremendous speed. Next year when you meet me, you will ask me how we have acquired such a speed.
Question: How can you abolish caste by floating a casteist party?
Kanshi Ram: The BSP is not a casteist party. If we are uniting 6000 castes, how can you call us casteist?
Question: I believe your party is off-limits to the upper castes.
Kanshi Ram: The upper castes say why not include us. I say you are leading all the parties. If you join our party, you will block change here also. THE UPPER CASTES CAN JOIN THE PARTY, BUT THEY CANNOT BE ITS LEADERS. LEADERSHIP WILL REMAIN IN THE HANDS OF THE BACKWARD COMMUNITY. My fear is that these upper caste people will come into our party and block the process of change. When this fear goes, they can join our party.
Question: What is your constituency?
Kanshi Ram: I REPRESENT THE CONSTITUENCIES OF BABU JAGJIVAN RAM AND CHAUDHARY CHARAN SINGH. AND MAYBE TO SOME EXTENT, SYED SHAHABUDDIN.
Question: Politicians we spoke to in Delhi say that if the BSP gets too belligerent they will finish you politically.
Kanshi Ram: WE WILL FINISH THEM. BECAUSE IF INDIRA CAN BE FINISHED BY A CHAMAR, ARE THESE FELLOWS GOING TO BE SAVED? WHEN WE ARE 90 PERCENT IN THE ARMED FORCES, 70 PER CENT IN THE BSF, 50 PER CENT IN THE CRPF AND THE POLICE, WHO CAN DO INJUSTICE TO US? A GENERAL NEEDS LESS BULLETS COMPARED TO JAWANS. THEY MAY HAVE GENERALS BUT NO JAWANS.
Question: Are you advocating an eye for an eye?
Kanshi Ram: TWO EYES. I tell my followers Ek Eet Ka Jawab, Do Pathron Se (you must retaliate for one brick with two stones), otherwise you are not my followers.
Question: So you are propagating violence.
Kanshi Ram: I am propagating strength. To curb violence, I must have strength. Other than me, for instance nobody can crush the Shiv Sena. Any time I come to Maharashtra, I will finish them. The violence of Shiv Sena will end.
Question: – How will you do that?
Kanshi Ram: – Who are the members of the Shiv Sena who burn and destroy? They are four castes: 1. Agari 2. Bhandari 3. Koli 4. Chamar. They are Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and most backward communities. As soon as I touch the Maharashtra, these people will instantly come with me.
Question: – What makes you think that the BSP will not end up like the RPI? Bargaining for power with the ruling party.
Kanshi Ram: – The RPI never bargained. It was begging. It never reached the status of bargaining. I remember in 1971, the party struck an electoral alliance with the Congress to contest 521 seats. The Congress contested 520 seats, the RPI contested one seat. I love the RPI, but I hate being compared to it. It is like a cheap prostitute available at a pittance. As long as I am alive, this will not happen to the BSP. We want change. We don’t want alliances with the forces of status quo. If a government cannot be formed without our co-operation, then we will have our own conditions, for change. We want fundamental and structural changes, not cosmetic ones.
Question: – There are rumours that you met Haji Mastan Mirza at Gonda last November to solicit funds.
Kanshi Ram: – I have never met him anywhere. I have only seen his photograph. He may be paying other people, but not us. In fact he is being used against us. If anybody can prove that I have ever met him, I am prepared to face the highest punishment. Moreover, how much money Haji Mastan can have? He is a very small man compared to me, as far as funds are concerned. If I only have funds like Haji Mastan, how can I beat the Congress and other parties? How many crores can he give us?
Question: – THERE IS SOME MYSTERY ABOUT THE SOURCES OF YOUR FUNDS.
Kanshi Ram: – My funds come from various sources which will not dry up. My funds come from those people who produce wealth. The Bahujan Samaj produces wealth. I get my money from them. Lakhs of my people spend crores going to festivals like the Kumbh Mela to improve their next birth. I tell them that Kanshi Ram does not know anything about the next life. But he is an expert in the present life.
Those interested in improving their next life, I tell them, must go to the Brahmins on the banks of the Ganga. Those interested in improving their present life must come to me. So they throng to my meetings.
Question: – There is talk of your being sponsored by the CIA.
Kanshi Ram: – For so many years this government has been clapping about it. It distributed lakhs of pamphlets about this in Bijnore. But the result was that people became furious and could not be purchased. Babu Ji tried to purchase votes at Rs. 1000 each. But even those who used to be purchased at Rs.10 turned him down. And if I am a CIA man, why hasn’t this government taken any action against me? That shows it is a hijra (eunuch) government.
Question: – They say you spent a lot of money on the Lucknow rally.
Kanshi Ram: – Rs. 22 lakhs were spent on hiring the buses alone. But I am angry. It should have been Rs. 22 crores. A time will come when people should spend Rs. 22 crores on my call. I don’t feel any dearth of money. If money is coming from a treasury, it will be extinguished. I am getting money from a perennial source of funds. I need only one crore rupees to win all the 542 parliamentary seats. One day, voters will queue up to pay money to Kanshi Ram. The next day, they will queue up to vote for Kanshi Ram.
Question: – Some of your party men have broken away from you.
Kanshi Ram: – You cannot keep all the people together. Some people may get tired. Some people may be purchased. Some may become frightened. This will be a permanent feature. It will not demoralise us. I have created a method where in a given time if 10 people go away, we will produce 110 people of the same caliber. Whom we dropped as deadwood, others are trying to pick up and burn a fire. They are trying to use them against us.
Question: – You reiterate that you have never taken funds from a foreign source.
Kanshi Ram: – When I went to England two years ago, some people – there are seven lakh Chamars there – offered me funds. I decided not to take the money, though Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Buta Singh had taken money from the same source – the Guru Ravidass Gurdwara in Birmingham. They had given to Babu Ji also. I was the only person who didn’t accept.
Question: – What kind of change are you looking for?
Kanshi Ram: – I don’t want temporary changes. I am not prepared to attain what I cannot sustain. Let us attain whatever we can, but it must be retained and retained only by permanent change.
Question: – And when do you intend to contest elections?
Kanshi Ram: – I will stand when there are 100 constituencies in India where I can get a walkover.
Question: – How long will that take?
Kanshi Ram: – Two years at the most.