Kanshiram: Leader of the Dalits

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9780670085095: Kanshiram: Leader of the Dalits

Venerated as a dalit icon, Kanshiram (1934 2006) is regarded as being next only to Ambedkar today. This book illuminates his journey, from the early years in rural Punjab and with Ambedkarites in Pune, to his launching BAMCEF, an umbrella organization uniting backward castes, scheduled tribes, dalits and minorities, and eventually the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1984.

Drawing on myriad oral and written sources, Badri Narayan shows how Kanshiram mobilized dalits with his homespun idiom, cycle rallies and, uniquely, the use of local folk heroes and myths, rousing their self-respect, and how he struck opportunistic alliances with higher-caste parties to seize power for dalits. Evocatively described is his extraordinary relationship with Mayawati, right until his death, and the role she has played in fulfilling his vision, during and after his lifetime.

Contrasting the approach of the two men, Narayan highlights the turn Kanshiram gave to Ambedkar s ideas. Unlike Ambedkar, who sought its annihilation, he saw caste as a basis for forging a dalit identity and a source of political empowerment.

Authoritative and insightful, this is a rare portrait of the man who changed the face of dalit society and, indeed, of Indian politics.

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About the Author:

Badri Narayan is a professor at the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad. His research interests range from popular culture, social and anthropological history to dalit and subaltern issues.

Writing in English and Hindi, Narayan is the author of The Making of the Dalit Public in North India: Uttar Pradesh, 1950 Present (2011), Fascinating Hindutva: Saffron Politics and Dalit Mobilisation (2009) and Women Heroes and Dalit Assertion in North India (2006). He has also been the recipient of the Fulbright Senior Fellowship (2004 05) and the Smuts Fellowship, University of Cambridge (2007).

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