Why Are Ambedkarites Objecting to Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Dalit Diwali’?

Quint Hindi interacted with some young Ambedkarites to learn about why people were objecting to ‘Dalit Diwali’.

3 min read

14 April, this year will be celebrated as the 130th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. People around the world who believe in social justice and harmony, celebrate it with fanfare. All the political parties in the country leave no stone unturned to prepare for this big event.

This time, Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi Party has decided to celebrate this day as ‘Dalit Diwali’ with a motive of doing something ‘different’.

As the panchayat elections in the state are underway and with Assembly elections approaching, the move is being worked out in social and political ways.

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav as well as the BJP have announced to celebrate 'Dalit Diwali' in a big way.


The UP Congress has termed Akhilesh Yadav's move as a "sham". Many Ambedkarites are also objecting to the word 'Dalit Diwali'. Social media has also shown a negative trend towards the term. Quint Hindi spoke to few young Ambedkarites and learnt why people are objecting to Akhilesh Yadav's move and 'Dalit Diwali'.

Laxman Yadav, assistant professor at Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University, said, "In the Constituent Assembly, Dr Ambedkar himself did not use the word Dalit. Jaipal Singh Munda would say that we want tribal words, not ST words. But, the bill was passed on the day Jaipalji was not present.”

Yadav said that in terms of what came into our practice after Independence, the word Dalit was considered for the Schedule Cast (SC) community. “So I think Akhilesh Yadav should not have used the word 'Dalit Deepawali'. The first meaning of this is that Ambedkar was only the leader of Dalits.”

“We believe Ambedkar was the biggest icon in the nation building process. ‘Dalit’ terminology is shortening this big umbrella. It would have been better if Akhilesh had given a word like Samata Diwas or Nyaya Diwas.”
Laxman Yadav, Assistant Professor, Delhi University

Why Diwali?

Jitendra Meena, assistant professor at Shyamlal College, Delhi University, said, "Why 'Diwali'? He (Akhilesh) says the cultural sense of Diwali is linked to Hindutva. There is a narrative behind it, which shows that the Samajwadi Party also wants to play on the ground of Hindutva politics.”

“But, the party in front of you is the champion of the ground you want to play on. So instead of the name of Dalit Diwali, it could have been celebrated in a big way in the name of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar.”
Jitendra Meena, Assistant Professor, Delhi University

Sumit Chauhan of 'The Shudra', a digital platform designed with the bahujan community in mind, said that anyone who has read Baba Saheb, knows his contribution and can never talk about organising words or events like Dalit Diwali.

Chauhan says Akhilesh Yadav is also running on the same path as some parties have been running on before and has been trying to restrict Baba Saheb to the Dalit community only.

“Baba Saheb is the architect of modern India. Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar has contributed to the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India, fixing working hours, providing facilities like insurance and TA-DA of employees, giving women equal rights as men. So was it just for a community?”
Sumit Chauhan, The Shudra

Akhilesh Yadav had announced this move on 8 April. In a press conference that was held on 10 April, he spoke about the name of the event.

Akhilesh Yadav had said that no matter what the name may be, there may be a complaint in the name, the biggest question is whether the BJP-Congress people will light diyas or not.


Is There a Political Angle in 'Dalit Divas'?

Laxman Yadav said that the Samajwadi Party is also preparing for the upcoming elections. “But this is limiting Ambedkar's image and it is not going to help,” he said.

“Political slogans no longer have anything to do with the ground. It doesn’t matter if you remember Ambedkar on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary and remember him on Parshuram’s birth anniversary. My question to political parties is, what is your ideology?”
Laxman Yadav

Jitendra Meena sees it as a completely opposite step to socialist ideology. He said that politicians of the socialist party should know that socialism has no space for this kind of thing anywhere.

“This step is seen as an attempt to narrow down the ideology of Ambedkar, which is not needed at all. Hindutva ideology should not be mixed with that of Ambedkar. It should have been viewed from a bahujan perspective.”
Jitendra Meena, Assistant Professor, Delhi University

People have been talking about 'Dalit Diwali' on social media and have been criticising the move of ‘symbolic politics’ of the Samajwadi Party.

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