Harpal Singh Keema of the Aam Aadmi Party, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, is also from the Dalit community. There are also many backward Dalit communities in charge of the Golden Temple, a popular Sikh shrine. According to the Times of India, some of the former Golden Temple presidents, preachers and singers were backward classes.
Sikhism and caste discrimination
It has become a common occurrence for Dalits and the backward classes to come to all the major Sikh spiritual institutions. Therefore, exploring the caste heritage of those in prominent positions is a daunting task. The Times of India reports that it is very difficult to confirm the caste of the current chairman of SGPC.
SGPC President Gianni Harpreet Singh says Sikhs and believers do not believe in castes. The emphasis is on the philosophy and goal of Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion. Harpreet Singh Akal became the director of Akal Takht after completing a three-year religious studies course from SGPC’s Gurukashi Gurmat Institute. It was only after this that Sikh scholars were granted Gyani status.
Dalit population in Punjab
According to the 2011 census, a third of Punjabis are Dalits. According to the census, there are more Sikhs among Dalits than Hindus. Most of them are Masabi Sikhs.
Hindus make up 38.4% of the population. One third of them are Dalits. Most of them are Ravidas and Valmiki. A section of the Ravidasyas has been demanding for some time that they do not want to be subordinate to Hinduism and should be viewed as a separate sect.
Sikh dalits and reserve
Sikhs reject the basic caste system of Hinduism. However, Akali Dal members in the Constituent Assembly had demanded that certain sectors of the Sikh community be included on the SC list. Former Interior Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel opposed the move. When all efforts failed, Sikh master guru Tarasingh wrote a letter to the president on April 4, 1953.
As no action was taken, a march to Delhi was announced on October 1. With the start of the march from Anandpur Sahib, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened. According to Tarlochan Singh, a former Rajya Sabha member and chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Masabi, Ramdasya, Kabir Panti and Sikhligar were later included on the SC list.
The beginning of Dalit politics
During British rule, the so-called depressed SCs began to stir in Punjab from the early 20th century. The formation of the Adi Dharma constituency in 1926 by Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia, the leader of the revolutionary Ghadar Party, took a great leap back in politics.
This movement developed as a religion with a special symbol and verse. Collaborating initially with the Muslim Unionist Party, they later formed an alliance with Congress. In the 1937 elections in Punjab province, he won seven of the eight reserved seats. Telu Ram, the grandfather of BSP founder Kanshi Ram, was an active member of the Adi Dharma constituency.
Ambedkar and Punjab
The Programmed Caste Federation, formed by Dr. BR Ambedkar, was established in 1942 in Punjab. The Republican Party, made up of Ambedkar, won four MLAs in the 1967 elections.
Kanshi Ram, BSP and Punjab
BSP founder Kanshi Ram was born in Puvad, Punjab. It is also the birthplace of the current Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi. Harbhajan Lakha, who won in the Philor constituency in 1989, was the first BSP MP in Punjab. Subsequently, the BSP won all three seats it contested in 1996. Kanshi Ram from Hoshiarpur also became a member of Parliament. Sikhs generally do not hesitate to vote for scheduled caste parties.
BJP and Dalit Communities
The Valmiki faction is generally in favor of Congress. One section also supports BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal. Congress was initially supported by the Ravi Dasya faction, which wanted to remain under Hinduism. Later they became supporters of the BSP. Now the Akali Dal is also influential. Both Dalit communities generally disagree with the BJP.
The BJP has been working hard since 2014 to be active among the Dalits. Former party state chairman and Union minister Vijay Sampla has been appointed chairman of the National Commission for Registered Castes. Som Prakash Kain of the Ravidasya faction has been appointed Union Minister. However, the Times of India reports that they have not been able to go from being SC leaders of the BJP to community leaders.
[Compiled by അനീബ് പി.എ]