Speaking for ourselves

The pressure on Dalit, Yadav, Muslim or even women leaders to always be seen to be speaking for their respective constituencies can have damaging consequences. Sixty one years ago, when India made the transition to universal adult suffrage, caste and other identities certainly did not die. But it was a transcendental idea, offering a poor, unequal, caste- and prejudice-ridden society an important way out.

The failure of secular parties to fulfil the secular aspirations of the last few years has allowed parties like the MIM to use the prevailing sense of disappointment and claim their turf once more. But in India, for a Dalit voice to make the loudest case for Dalits, or a Muslim voice to make one for Muslims, is like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi organising a dharna for the cause of Gujarati lawyers recently returned from South Africa.

seema.chishti@expressindia.com

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