Right to Recall: A Dalit’s Viewpoint
Few months ago, after raising the toast on the success of Jan Lokpal Bill, Anna & Co. started demanding right to recall, electoral reform and voicing pro-death penalty. Since then Anna is in controversies over his comments on Sharad Pawar’s slap-issue, over his treatment with drunken people in his village and then his comments on women and pregnancy pain. Anna’s latest stint with fast at Mumbai was unsuccessful. All these news remind me that in my previous articles, I’d promised to write on Right to Recall and Dalits. So, here I am.
I don’t want to discuss the cost of election, re-election and re-election because I do have other concerns, concerns much more important than the cost of election or re-election, such as how Right to Recall will affect Dalits-Bahujans. (I also don’t buy the argument that India is a poor country, especially when there is a hell lot of corruption.) I also don’t want to discuss how cumbersome this process of Right to Recall would be i.e. practical difficulties. It would be almost impossible for such a populated country like India to implement Right to Recall. (In the countries, where Right to Recall is working require certain number of signatures (about 70%) of people from the area where people are demanding to recall and then verification is also required for the signatures, only after that re-election takes place. And we also have to keep in mind that those countries (such as Venezuela and few states of USA) where “Right to Recall” is working do have much less population.) But, let’s ignore all these difficulties for the sake of argument and concentrate on few other concerns.
Three states of India, i.e. Punjab, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh already do have provisions to recall leaders at the local level. “The Punjab Panchyati Raj Act” says,
…no-confidence against a Sarpanch be made to the Block Development and Panchayat Officer by a two-thirds majority of the total number of Panches of the Gram Sabha.
Punjab’s Dalits get a raw deal; and this is deepening caste fissures in the State. Problem arises in the villages when few upper caste panches files no-confidence motion against the Dalit Sarpanch due to caste prejudices or those upper caste panches don’t want to see Dalit ruling them or the village. Getting two-third majority for influential upper caste panches is not a big deal. As the result of caste politics and money at the village level Dalits suffer.
Few months ago, news from Patiala district of Punjab reported in which a Dalit Sarpanch gave statements that four of his colleagues never attended the panchayat proceedings and never allowed him to work properly. When the mandatory half term was over panches brought the no-confidence motion against him and removed him from the seat of Sarpanch. He asked that, how can panches say me in-efficient when they never allowed me to work for a single day? He also said, “I don’t know Anna Hazare, but whosoever is advocating for such a law (Right to Recall), is working against the spirit of democracy,”
In India, women are the most disrespected, exploited, unprotected and neglected person and if she is Dalit, only God helps then. Another case that came into limelight few months back was of about the suffering of Dalit Sarpanch in Panipat (Haryana). Dalit Sarpanch woman tried to stop the child marriage and village’s influential people resented! Influential people from the village started asking for her resignation stating that she had brought bad name to the village via stopping child marriage! I wonder what would be the bringing good name for the village, marrying children in the womb? This is what the real face of India’s villages, no matter how hard Dalits try to mend the unlawful laws; Dalits always suffer and think what would happen to Dalits if Right to Recall comes into picture.
According to the news of Forward Press magazine (August 2011 issue) Dalit Sarpanch woman of Karauvahdih (Chhattisgarh) was boycotted because she refused to give Rs. 50,000 as a bribe to son of deputy-sarpanch. Many similar incidents happened in the Karauvahdih in the past also where Dalits were penalised for not paying bribe and caste discrimination. Another Dalit Sarpanch woman and her husband from the Ambala district (Haryana) were thrashed over MNREGA work, influential casteist people wanted bribe from the money allotted for the work and she refused.
Last year, in Rohtak district (Haryana) Dalit Sarpanch was ostracized for contesting poll and when he was selected as a Sarpanch; casteist villagers refused to accept him as a Sarpanch and ordered residents to ostracize him and his family.
Few years back, in village Methwallya (Bihar), Dalit Sarpanch was refrained from hoisting a national flag on 26th January. He was not only refrained but beaten brutally and boycotted by dominant caste persons. Almost same news was reported from the Nasik (Maharashtra) where Dalit Sarpanch was stopped from hoisting a flag.
A survey by Navsarjan revealed that about 65% Dalit Sarpanches drink tea in separate cups and do have separate cups for drinking water in their own offices! And about 40% are not allowed to sit on the chairs! The purpose of discussing all these news reports is to let readers know that Dalits are being tortured for even raising a voice against the cruelty of casteism, child marriage or what not. Dalit women are raped, paraded naked, burnt alive or Dalit houses are set on fire on day to day basis and the story is no different throughout the India. If Right to Recall is brought in picture it should not make thing worse for Dalits of India. I don’t want Right to Recall but I surely want provisions, which lead to smooth functioning of Dalit leaders.
My Final Thoughts
All these news and reports are just the fraction of what is inside story of caste discrimination, caste politics and Dalits at village level and imagine what would be the condition at the national level? Dalits do suffer much more than one can imagine in day to day life and Right to Recall should not become an instrument to harsh and remove Dalits from the some hard earned posts. I do want that India develop and everyone be responsible for the work one is assigned but all of these not at the cost of Dalits killings or Dalits suffering. As per me, the best option for India is to make the service term of ruling short i.e. from 5years to 4year.
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