Alternative Politics: Rahamat Tarikere Interviews Devanoora Mahadeva

Sarvodaya Karnataka Party, which was founded as a part of Karnataka’s alternative political experiments, merged with Swaraj India in early 2017. Devanoora Mahadeva, who was the president of Sarvodaya Karnataka, is one of Kannada’s eminent writers. He was conferred with the Padma Shri as well as the Sahitya Academy award returning both in protest against the growing intolerance in the country. This special interview, by writer-thinker Rahamat Tarikere, articulates Devanoora Mahadeva’s experiences and ideas regarding social movements and alternative politics.

In the methodology of your political thought you refer to Gandhi, Lohia and Ambedkar. The one missing in this list is Marx. Is it not possible for Marxist thought to join in as a force in alternative politics?

Why not? What I am saying is that Indian communists have become stagnant, that’s all. Here communism needs to assimilate India and find its own words and actions. Isn’t it so? That’s not happening. It’s like a goods carrier just carting a consignment. If you become like a tape recorder as soon as you start to speak, then how will it work? Doesn’t life transcend logic?

You are very drawn to Gandhiji, in fact even your party’s name Sarvodaya too seems to have come from there. But do you think this is the reason why Dalits, who are tethered to the historic Gandhi-Ambedkar debate, have distanced themselves from you?

You seem to be plotting to distance me from the Dalit community through this very question (laughs) This is what happens if we place Gandhi and Ambedkar within the contemporary period, understanding and seeing them only as bodies. If we let go off logic, transform them into energy and look at their intentions and hopes then we won’t have that problem. If we distill them into spirit, into a cocktail that high could win over the world. A long time ago at Manipal when I had to speak about Gandhi, I weaved in Ambedkar bit by bit. There, U R Anantamurthy was translating it into English for the audience, who didn’t know Kannada and his eyes started brimming with tears. After I finished speaking, Anantamurthy said ‘Internally, I used to be a bit annoyed about Ambedkar; but today Ambedkar has a home in me.’ he said. What do you say to this?

Is the Sangh Parivar saffronising Ambedkar now?

True, true. First they tried to trample and liquidate him, painted him black. The more Ambedkar was trampled on the more he sprouted in people’s minds.  The sangh parivar people, imposters, are now painting him saffron and are scheming to use him. Today everyone wants to paint Ambedkar with their colours. If there is a betrayal inside it’s not good for anyone.

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