Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati announced that the death anniversary of party founder Kanshi Ram on October 9 would be observed in a big way in Lucknow and party cadre and leaders from across the country would participate in it.
While winding up the first phase of BSP’s intellectual convention and launching the 2022 poll campaign, Mayawati said that party workers and leaders would assemble at Kanshi Ram Memorial in Lucknow in the morning of October 9 but all should follow Covid norms and wear masks.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will formally launch its election campaign in Uttar Pradesh on October 9 which happens to be the death anniversary of the late Kanshi Ram, the party’s founder.
Mayawati has asked party workers to pay homage to the late Kanshi Ram on the occasion by paying homage to the party founder and resolving to bring BSP back in power.
Party sources said that an estimated 1 lakh cadre turnout is expected at the memorial built-in memory of Kanshi Ram, and Mayawati will address them.
The former chief minister has already started reviewing preparations for the elections and even shortlisting the candidates.
Mayawati has told the party cadres to observe Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary in a big way this year.
A party functionary said, “Behenji (Mayawati) has asked people from all 75 districts to come to Lucknow on October 9. We are expecting a crowd of approximately 1 lakh, if not more, to visit the memorial. This will be the largest gathering of party workers in the state capital in two years since we could not organize any program due to the pandemic.”
Talking about Kashi Ram, he was born to a Ramdasia Sikh family of Chamar caste on 15 March 1934 in Ropar district, Punjab, British India. Some sources say his birthplace was the village of Pirthipur Bunga and others that it was Khawaspur village.
After studies at various local schools, Ram graduated in 1956 with a BSc degree from Government College Ropar.
Proposed conversion to Buddhism
In 2002, Ram announced his intention to convert to Buddhism on 14 October 2006, the 50th anniversary of Ambedkar’s conversion. He intended for 50,000,000 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.
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”.
Ram was a diabetic. He suffered a heart attack in 1994, an arterial clot in his brain in 1995, and a paralytic stroke in 2003. He died in New Delhi on 9 October 2006 of a severe heart attack at the age of 72. He had been virtually bed-ridden for more than two years. According to his wishes, his funeral rites were performed according to Buddhist tradition, with Mayawati lighting the pyre. His ashes were placed in an urn and kept at Prerna Sthal, where many people paid their respects.
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.
In 1982, Ram wrote The Chamcha Age (The Era of the Stooges), a book in which he used the term chamcha (stooge) for Dalit leaders who he alleged had selfish reasons to work for parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). His book Birth of BAMCEF was also published. His biography, Kanshiram: Leader Of The Dalits was written by Badri Narayan Tiwari. His speeches are compiled in books like Bahujan Nayak Kanshiram Ke Avismarniya Bhashan by Anuj Kumar, Writings & Speeches of Kanshiram compiled by S. S. Gautam and The Editorials of Kanshi Ram by Bahujan Samaj Publications in 1997.
In 2017, a Hindi-language Biopic film The Great Leader Kanshiram was released in India, directed and produced by Arjun Singh, based on the story of DS4, BAMCEF and Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram from his childhood to 1984.