Kanshi Ram

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Kanshi Ram
Founder and National president of the Bahujan Samaj Party
In office
14 April 1984 – 18 September 2003
Succeeded by Mayawati
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Hoshiarpur
In office
Preceded by Kamal Chaudhry
Succeeded by Kamal Chaudhry
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Etawah
In office
Preceded by Ram Singh Shakya
Succeeded by Ram Singh Shakya
Personal details
Born 15 March 1934
Khawaspur village, Rupnagar district, Punjab, India
Died 9 October 2006 (aged 72)
New Delhi
Political party Bahujan Samaj Party
Website www.bamcef.info/manyawar-shri-kanshiram-ji.php

Kanshi Ram (15 March 1934 – 9 October 2006), also known as Bahujan Nayak[1] or Saheb,[2] was an Indian politician and social reformer who worked for the upliftment and political mobilisation of the Bahujans, the untouchable groups at the bottom of the caste system in India.[3] Towards this end, Kanshi Ram founded Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS-4), the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees' Federation (BAMCEF) in 1971 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1984. He ceded leadership of the BSP to his protégé Mayawati who has served four terms as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Early life[edit]

Kanshi Ram was born on 15 March 1934 in Khawaspur village, Ropar district, to a Ramdasia Sikh family. The Ramdasias are a Dalit sect but in Punjab at that time there was relatively little stigma attached to being an untouchable.[4][5]


Kanshi Ram joined the offices of the Explosive Research and Development Laboratory in Pune.[4] In 1964,[6] during his time there, he joined the agitation started by SCEWASTAMB (All India Federation of Scheduled Caste/Tribes Backward Class & Minorities Employees Welfare Associations) of Government of India to prevent the abolition of a holiday commemorating B. R. Ambedkar's birthday.[citation needed]

In 1978, Ram formed BAMCEF, a non-political, non-religious and non-agitational organisation with wings like BVF, Brotherhood Center and Buddhist Research Center.[7]

Later, in 1981, Ram formed another social organisation known as Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS4). He started his attempt of consolidating the Dalit vote and in 1984 he founded the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The BSP found success in Uttar Pradesh, initially struggled to bridge the divide between Dalits and Other Backward Classes[8] but later under leadership of Mayawati bridged this gap.[9]

In 1982 he wrote his book The Chamcha Age (an Era of the Stooges) and in it he used of the term chamcha (stooge) for Dalit leaders who for their selfish motives work for parties like the Indian National Congress (INC) such as Jagjivan Ram or Ram Vilas Paswan[4] and for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)[10] keeping in ethical context with Ambedkar's book What Gandhi and the Congress Have Done to the Untouchables to the politics of Dalit liberation.[citation needed]

However, it was in 1986 when he declared his transition from a social worker to a politician by stating that he was not going to work for/with any other organization other than the BSP. During the meetings and seminars of the party, Ram stated to ruling classes that if they promised to do something, it would pay to keep the promise, or else just accept that they were not capable of fulfilling their promises.[citation needed]

After forming BSP Ram said the party would fight first election to lose, next to get noticed and the third election to win.[11] In 1988 he contested Allahabad seat up against a future Prime Minister V. P. Singh and performed impressively but lost polling close to 70,000 votes.[12]

He unsuccessfully contested from East Delhi (Lok Sabha constituency) in 1989 and came at fourth position. Then he represented the 11th Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur,[13] Kanshiram was also elected as member of Lok Sabha from Etawah in Uttar Pradesh. In 2001 he publicly announced Mayawati as his successor.

In the late 1990s, Ram described the BJP as the most corrupt (mahabrasht) party in India and the INC, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal as equally corrupt.[14][15]

Proposed conversion to Buddhism[edit]

In 2002, Ram announced his intention to convert to Buddhism on ?? October 2006, the 50th anniversary of Ambedkar's conversion. He intended for 20,000,000 of his supporters to convert at the same time. Part of the significance of this plan was that Ram's followers include not only untouchables, but persons from a variety of castes, who could significantly broaden Buddhism's support. However, he died on 9 October 2006.[16]

Mayawati his successor said "Saheb Kanshi Ram and I had decided that we will convert and adopt Buddhism when we will get "absolute majority" at the Centre. We wanted to do this because we can make a difference to the religion by taking along with us millions of people. If we convert without power then only we two will be converting. But when you have power you can really create a stir".[17]


Ram was a diabetic. He suffered a heart attack in 1994, an arterial clot in his brain in 1995, and a stroke in 2003.[18]

He died in New Delhi on 9 October 2006 of a severe heart attack. He had been virtually bed-ridden for more than two years.[citation needed]

According to his wishes,[19] his funeral rites were performed as per Buddhist tradition, with Mayawati lighting the pyre.[18] His ashes were placed in an urn and kept at Prerna Sthal, where many people paid their respects.[20]

In his condolence message, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Ram as "one of the greatest social reformers of our time .. his political ideas and movements had a significant impact on our political evolution ... He had a larger understanding of social change and was able to unite various underprivileged sections of our society and provide a political platform where their voices would be heard." Under Ram's leadership, the BSP won 14 parliamentary seats in the 1999 federal elections.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kanshi Ram should be given the Bharat Ratna: Mayawati". DNA. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-24. 
  2. ^ Singh, Rajesh Kumar (30 July 2015). "This bard wants Kanshi Ram loyalists to spread wings". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  3. ^ Narayan, Badri (11 May 2012). "Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram - so alike, yet so different". The Hindu. Retrieved 2016-05-15. 
  4. ^ a b c "The man who saw tomorrow". The Indian Express. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  5. ^ Dua, Rohan (23 April 2014). "Will never vote for BSP, vow Kanshi Ram siblings". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  6. ^ Waghmore, Suryakant. Civility against Caste: Dalit Politics and Citizenship in Western India. p. 38. 
  7. ^ Waghmore, Suryakant. Civility against Caste: Dalit Politics and Citizenship in Western India. p. 40. 
  8. ^ Rawat, Ramnarayan (23 October 2006). "The Dalit Chanakya". Outlook. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  9. ^ Lal, Ratan Mani. "17 castes included Shakyas, Rajbhar, Saini, Maurya and others members of this community are more inclined towards Mayawati and her BSP". 
  10. ^ "Return of the chamcha age". The Indian Express. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  11. ^ "a new party loses the first election, gets noticed in the next and wins the third, these are Kanshiram ji's words - Yogendra Yadav". 
  12. ^ SUBRAHMANIAM, VIDYA. "A quarter century of Kanshi Ram & Mayawati". 
  13. ^ "Biographical Sketch of Member of XI Lok Sabha: KANSHI RAM, SHRI B.S.P. - HOSHIARPUR (PUNJAB)". IIS Windows Server. 15 March 1934. Retrieved 2016-05-02. 
  14. ^ "Continuity of govt policies may be a casualty as BJP, BSP take turns to rule". India Today 15041997. 15 April 1997. Retrieved 2016-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Rediff On The NeT Elections '98: BSP to vote against Vajpayee". Rediff.com. 20 March 1998. Retrieved 2016-04-24. 
  16. ^ "Kanshi Ram cremated as per Buddhist rituals". The Hindu. 2006-10-10. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  17. ^ Mayawati claims Saheb Kanshi Ram's legacy
  18. ^ a b HT News
  19. ^ "Kanshi Ram's ashes will not be immersed: Mayavati". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  20. ^ "Maya gives city traffic blues!". Hindustan Times. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  21. ^ Indian Dalit leader passes away

External links[edit]