Why ‘blue’ is a sought after colour in UP politics

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Blue is the colour of tranquillity but in Uttar Pradesh politics, it has become symbolic with upheaval.

The colour is synonymous with Dalits — their empowerment and their aggression — and almost every political party in the country is apparently keen to get a slice of the Dalit cake.

The BJP has been trying to bring a splash of blue into its sea of saffron and the Congress would also like its tricolor to get a larger share of blue. The Samajwadi Party is more than willing to bring blue into its green by befriending Dalits.

The fledgling Bhim Army has completely embraced blue and its shade of blue is now stronger than BSP’s shade of blue in western UP.

The BJP outreach into Dalit politics has been more than evident in the past four years in Uttar Pradesh.

The party has inducted most of the leaders from BSP and continues to promote Dalits within the party.

As a result of this, the BJP won 15 of the 17 reserved seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Samajwadi Party that had allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2019 elections is now trying to woo Dalits in a big way after the BSP snapped ties with SP.

The party has even formed Baba Saheb Vahini that will work to bring Dalits into the party fold. The party also announced a ‘Dalit Diwali’ on Ambedkar Jayanti.

This is the first conscious and visible effort of the SP to wade into blue waters (read Dalit politics). Till now, SP had restricted itself to OBCs and Muslims.

The Congress is also making an attempt to try its ‘hand’ at Dalit politics. While its General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been visiting home of Dalit victims who have faced atrocities, state Congress leaders have been seen wearing blue scarves during such events.

But when and how did blue become the colour of the day for Dalits in the country and even outside it?

S.R. Darapuri, retired IPS officer and now a leading Dalit activist, explained, “Blue is the colour of the sky and the sea and shows limitlessness. Dr B.R. Ambedkar was very fond of the colour. When founded the Scheduled Caste Federation in 1942, he chose a blue flag. Then in 1956, he founded the Republican Party of India and gave it a blue flag too. Dr Ambedkar always wore a blue coat and was internationally known for his colour choice. For Dalits, this became a symbol of Dalit empowerment and it continues to this day because major Dalit outfits represent themselves through this colour”.

Darapuri further recalled that blue is one of the primary colours of Buddhism and ‘Blue Buddha’ is most revered. Dr Ambedkar, in his later years, had embraced Buddhism and in Buddhism, blue colour is associated with tranquility, compassion and kindness.

Dr Dauji Gupta, a social and Dalit activist who worked closely with late Kanshi Ram and died a fortnight ago, had said at a function that blue has been synonymous with Dalit activism ever since Ambedkar emerged as a Dalit icon.

“For Dalits, blue is a colour that they call their own and no one has ever tried to change this. Dr Ambedkar was often seen wearing blue coat with a red tie, especially in the last three decades of his life, and the flags have always been blue for Dalit outfits even though they may have differed with each other,” he had said.

Dr Gupta had also said that the cases of Dr Ambedkar’s statue being painted saffron was an example of some groups claiming political ownership of the Dalit icon.

“Such an attempt will only backfire because the colour blue is firmly ingrained as a symbol of Dalit pride,” he said.

Ram Kinkar Gautam, a Dalit writer, had his own take on the significance of blue for Dalits.

“Any community that is marginalised and deprived looks for symbolism to unite. The colour blue was promoted by Dr Ambedkar and became the colour of the Dalit community. Simply raising a blue flag, today, symbolises Dalit unity and parties like the BSP have only promoted it. Today, even if Ms Mayawati wants, she cannot change the colour of the party because blue is a bigger symbol for Dalits than even the BSP,” he said.

Prof Ramesh Dixit, a well-known political scientist, said that symbolism has always been a strong factor in Asian societies – saffron for Hindus and Sufis and green for Muslims.

Dr Ambedkar wearing a suit had a huge impact on the marginalised and oppressed lower caste people.

“In Ambedkar, they saw a glimmer of hope that a son of Dalit family can rise to that level too. Gradually, the blue coat became synonymous with Ambedkar as you can see in the portraits and statues of Ambedkar. Even though Ambedkar advised against forming a cult following, he became a symbol of struggle of Dalits. And the colour of his coat became the colour for Dalit movement in our country. I could not find any other significance or meaning of the colour other than that. However, the symbolism has become so strong today that any attempt to change this will invite resistance,” he explained.

Former BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar, meanwhile, said that his party was formed to realize the dreams of Dr Ambedkar for Dalits. “It is only natural that we take on blue which now represents Dalit empowerment,” he said.

–IANS

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