Triveni Sangh

"Triveni Sangh" was a caste coalition and political party established in Shahabad District of Bihar in pre-independence India to voice the political solidarity of "middle peasant castes" as well as to carve a space in democratic politics for the lower castes.[1] The date of formation of the Triveni Sangh has been variously stated. Some sources have said it was the 1920s but Kumar notes recently discovered documentation that makes 1933 more likely,[2] while Christophe Jaffrelot has said 1934.[3] The leaders associated with the formation of this front were Yadunandan Prasad Mehta, Shivpujan Singh and Jagdev Singh Yadav.[4]

Official mouthpiece of Triveni Sangh.

FormationEdit

The Triveni Sangh was formed in 1934 by the members of three prominent backward castes of Bihar, namely Yadavs, Koeri, and Kurmi. Its nomenclature was derived from the confluence of three mighty rivers viz. the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad. The Sangh claimed of having at least one million dues-paying members. Its formation was countered by the formation of Indian National Congress's backward class federation, which was established at the same time.[3]

The party took part in 1937 elections and suffered badly but it managed to win at places like 'Arrah' and 'Piro' in Shahabad District. As a result of this, upper castes reacted violently. In the meantime the party was also affected due to double-edged confrontation emerging out of the disunity between the three allied castes and superior organisational structure of Congress. According to political analysts, the superiority complex in Yadavs vis a vis Kurmi and Koeris lead to the decline of the organisation which could claim of being the first political set-up of backward castes in Bihar.[3]

HistoryEdit

The formation of the organization has a root emerging from Lakhochak riot (1925). In this village of Munger district, a caste council meeting of Yadavs was seen by local Bhumihar landlords as a challenge to their social and ritual position, who were wary of sanskritizing trend observed in a ritually unpure caste. Also, the upper caste saw this new trend as a possible barrier for the illegitimate dues they obtain from these peasant castes in form of Begar i.e free service as well as surplus like Ghee, Milk and agricultural products.[2]

In the second conference of Sangh held at Ekwaari village, it poised to fight for the cause of Kisan (peasants), Mazdoor (labourers) and small traders. In many districts of Bihar it became a symbol of rising political ambition of backward castes.[2] It also published its mouthpiece called "Triveni Sangh Ka Bigul".[5]

Development of anti Congress stanceEdit

The Congress party in those days was dominated by upper castes, who were responsible for seizure of all opportunities from backward castes for political representation.when leaders of backward caste sought to obtain ticket from Congress for contesting in any election they were always denied on the grounds of being ineligible for contesting in elections. According to Hindi novelist Omprakash Kashyap, if they fulfill all the grounds for eligibility they were told that legislature is not the place where vegetables are sown, cattle bred and milked as well as oil and salt are sold. This was an indirect attack on traditional professions of backward caste.[4]

The ticketing policy of congress as exposed later was in the favour of upper caste, and many a time they sidelined popular backward caste leaders in order to pave the way for upper caste to rise in power. This was witnessed, when Kurmi leader Deosharan Singh was sidelined against a Bhumihar leader whom another Kurmi leader "Ramlakhan" had defeated earlier. Numerous such incident made backward caste a staunch supporter of Triveni Sangh.[1]

Social impactEdit

In 1927 and 1933 district board elections, it placed its candidates against "upper castes" but was not much successful. Its charm after independence faded but it made it clear that dominance of upper caste would not remain forever.[2]

The Triveni Sangh movement of 1930 is said to have sowed the seed of political consciousness among the Koeri, Kurmi and Yadav caste of Bihar, which are variously described as upper backwards. The movement further paved the way for these castes to challenge the muscle power of "upper caste" in the later years, when Ram Manohar Lohia led the political front against Congress in Bihar in the 1980s. It was due to earlier efforts like the 'Sangh' that these middle peasant castes were able to stand up to upper castes in all spheres of life given that by the time they became fully conscious of their rights.[6] According to Sanjay Kumar:

If any (class/caste) could compete with the upper castes in terms of the social, economic, and political muscle, it was these three upper backward castes—Yadavs, Kurmis, and Koeris. The social coalition of the 1980s was much more politically oiled than the coalition of 1930, during the days of "Triveni Sangh".[6]

In later years, there was an attempt for a revival of this defunct organisation by All India Yadav Conference, particularly at Patna in 1965.[7] In 2015 Legislative Assembly elections of Bihar, the putatively put alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) was covered by media as an informal revival of Triveni Sangh.[8]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Sinha, A. (2011). Nitish Kumar and the Rise of Bihar. Viking. p. 30,31. ISBN 978-0-670-08459-3. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Kumar, Ashwani (2008). Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Caste Armies in Bihar. Anthem Press. pp. 43, 44, 196. ISBN 978-1-84331-709-8.
  3. ^ a b c Jaffrelot, Christophe (2003). India's silent revolution: the rise of the lower castes in North India. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 197–199. ISBN 978-1-85065-670-8. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  4. ^ a b KASHYAP, OMPRAKASH (2016-10-11). "Triveni Sangh -the first hint of power of organization". forwardpress.com.
  5. ^ Kumar, Ashwani (2008). Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Caste Armies in Bihar. Anthem Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-84331-709-8.
  6. ^ a b Kumar, Sanjay (2018-06-05). Post mandal politics in Bihar:Changing electoral patterns. SAGE publication. p. 55. ISBN 978-93-528-0585-3.
  7. ^ Kumar, Ashwani (2008). Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Caste Armies in Bihar. Anthem Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-84331-709-8.
  8. ^ Qadir, Abdul (2015-11-03). "Bihar election: Triveni Sangh on revival path". m.timesofindia.com.