SAHIB SHRI KANSHI RAM
ON HIS BIRTH ANNIVERSARY
Prem Kumar Chumber (Editor-In-Chief)
Shri Kanshi Ram was born on March 15, 1934, in Khawas Pur village
of Ropar District of Punjab (India). He was the eldest of eight
siblings. He belonged to the Ramdassia (Ad Dharmi/Mulnivasi)
community of the Scheduled Caste group, which is the largest
group in Punjab. He was named Kanshi because after his birth
the midwife placed him in a tray made of kansa metal. His father
owned some land and his uncles were in the armed forces. In
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram's own words, "I was born and brought
up amongst those who sacrificed themselves but never betrayed
the country...” Despite his low caste background, he earned
a bachelor’s degree in science from the Government College
at Ropar (Punjab).
upbringing was modest. During his education years there was
nothing special about him to suggest that he would mature into
great social revolutionary. It was only after he took up a government
job in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that he began
to be influenced by the writings and life of Baba Sahib Dr.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar who voiced the concerns of India's low
caste community and worked hard throughout his life for their
empowerment. Soon after his graduation, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram
Ji joined the research staff of Kirki’s Explosive Research
and Development Laboratory (ERDL) in Pune 1957. While working
in Pune, he quit his job after becoming involved in the famous
Deena Bhan case. Shri Deena Bhan, a Rajasthani Scheduled Caste
employee and senior colleague of Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji was
suspended. His fault was that he protested against the decision
of ERDL management for the cancellation of holidays for Baba
Sahib Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Lord Buddha Jayantis and their
replacement by the Tilak Jayanti and one additional holiday
for Diwali. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji decided to fight against
such a caste ridden and dictatorial behavior of the management.
The fighter in Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram got the suspension orders
of Shri Deena Bhan revoked and Dr. Ambedkar and Lord Buddha
Jayantis holidays were restored.
was the beginning of the long battle for the emancipation of
the Dalits in the country that Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram had to
lead till his last breath. He resigned from his job and totally
dedicated his entire life for the cause of the community. He
never married nor visited his home since then. His struggle
was not for the home and family. He devised a new strategy to
regain the lost glory of the original (Adi) inhabitants of Bharat
(India). He gave utmost importance to the culture of work and
democratic method of struggle. He also expanded the circle of
the Dalits by incorporating other Backward Classes and Minorities
criticized the post-Ambedkar leadership of Dalits in India.
For that he declared "Poona Pact" as the main reason.
He said that “Poona Pact" made Dalits helpless. By
rejecting separate electorate, Dalits were deprived of their
genuine representation in legislatures. Several and various
kind of chamchas were born in the last fifty years. As and when
India's so called high caste Hindu rulers felt the need of chamchas
and when the authority of the upper castes got endangered by
real and genuine Dalit leaders, chamchas were brought to the
fore in all other fields”.
his "The Chamcha Age", a well argued and polemical
tirade against the pseudo Dalit leaders, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram
Ji sharpen the contradiction for the legitimate acquisition
of political power by the downtrodden in electoral democracy
in India. In, the Chamcha Age, "he focused very much on
the Poona Pact which was a point of a rather decisive Gandhian
victory over Dr. Ambedkar after a long duel between the two
at the Round Table Conference". In the mid-1960s, Sahib
Kanshi Ram Ji began to organize Dalit government employees to
fight against what he saw as the deeply entrenched prejudice
of higher caste peoples. It was around this time that he decided
that he would not marry and dedicate his life to the cause of
Dalit improvement. Finally he decided play a crucial role in
the politics of the country.
result was, Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji launched his first organisation
on December 6th, 1978: All India Backward (SC, ST, OBC) and
Minority Communities' Employees' Federation, popularly known
as BAMCEF. Three years later, on December 6th 1981, Sahib Shri
Kanshi Ram Ji founded another organisation: DS-4 (Dalit Shoshit
Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) and on April 14th, 1984, Sahib Shri
Kanshi Ram Ji announced the formation of the Bahujan Samaj Party
(the Common Man's Party). As a politician, he became very popular
among his people, who found a new hope and vision in his style
of functioning and sincerity. Suddenly he became a national
figure. He was a master strategist and a meticulous organiser.
He used his strengths to carve out a niche for Dalits. This
was done by deploying an often combative and aggressive strategy,
with virulent attacks on other political parties which he claimed
only represented the interests of higher caste Hindus. He was
sharply different from other politicians of the mainstream.
He used to communicate before he spoke.
1996 Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji elected to the Lok Sabha from
the Hoshiarpur constituency, from where 50 years ago Great Ghadri
Baba Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia Ji founder of the "Ad Dharm
Movement" had been returned to the Punjab assembly in 1946.
Interestingly, it was at Hoshiarpur, the strong hold of "Ad
Dharm", that the BSP celebrated the 75th year of the "Ad
Dharm Movement" on February 18th, 2001 . On this occasion
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji exhorted the Bahujan Samaj to follow
the principles of the "Ad Dharm Movement" of which
the BSP has now become the torch-bearer.
was one of the few great leaders of Independent India who actually
expanded the limits of Dalit politics. His political vision
was never confined to Scheduled Castes only, as is often thought
about him. All of the political organisations he founded were
meant for the downtrodden of all sorts – SC, ST, OBC and
Minorities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was
the one who took a lead in making Indian democracy more competitive
and practically open to the Dalit-Bahujan Samaj.