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Kanshi Ram brought Dalits to the centre of UP politics
October 09, 2006 09:21 IST
Kanshi Ram, who died early on Monday, was responsible for pitchforking Dalits to the centre of Uttar Pradesh politics, leading to the decline of national parties like Congress.
Ram, who remained a bachelor, was an enigma in Indian politics and strove for the spread of the Dalit movement throughout the country but achieved considerable success only in Madhya Pradesh apart from Uttar Pradesh.
Ram, who launched an organisation for protecting the interests of Dalit workers in government in 1978, floated a political forum -- Dalit Shoshit Sangharsh Samiti -- in 1981 and tested political waters by entering the fray in 1987 in a Lok Sabha byelection against V P Singh in Allahabad when the latter founded Jan Morcha, but failed to make it to Parliament.
However, he later won from Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, in 1991 and entered the Lok Sabha.
Born on March 15, 1934, Ram, a politician of Dalit Sikh background, founded the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1984.
Along with Mayawati, he brought the party to power in Uttar Pradesh in 1995 and the former became the state's chief minister.
Ram was also a member of the 11th Lok Sabha (1996-97).
At a huge political rally in December 2001 in Lucknow, Ram declared Mayawati as his "political heir" and the latter took over as president of the BSP.
Ram later developed multiple ailments like stroke, diabetes and hypertension and was virtually bed-ridden at Mayawati's residence.
His family members alleged that Mayawati was holding him captive so as to control the BSP.
Ram's mother, 90-year-old Bishan Kaur, approached the Supreme Court in 2005 alleging that his family members were not allowed to meet him.
She expressed doubts over the kind of treatment being provided to Ram under Mayawati's care.
Accepting Kaur's plea, the apex court directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to constitute a team of doctors to examine Ram's physical and mental condition and to find out whether he needed to be admitted to a hospital.
Ram's last public appearance was in March 2006 on the occasion of his 72nd birthday.
A large number of party workers, members of Parliament, legislators and supporters gathered at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium in Delhi to celebrate it.