A group of other backward class (OBC) leaders have organised an event in Pune to celebrate the state’s bahujan saints (saints who belonged to the so-called backward classes) and discuss their socio-political roles and relevance in the modern world. Various experts will attend the two-day event to be held on May 21-22.
Chief of reception committee Hanumant Upre said, “Such a convention has never been held before. We want to share with the world what these saints have said on empowering the bahujan people and their efforts to set people free of political, religious and economic oppression.”
Two leaders, who share different political ideologies but fight for a common OBC cause — public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal (Nationalist Congress Party) and deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde (Bharatiya Janata Party) — will also attend.
The state has given birth to some influential poet saints from the 13th to the 17th century, from Dnyandev (1275-1296) to Tukaram (1608-1690). The poet saints not only professed fusing bhakti (devotion) with Gyana (knowledge), but also inspired citizens to take up the cause of independence against foreign rule.
Upre said the organisers respected Dnyandev, a Brahmin (with whom the saint tradition begins) and others from the upper castes.
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale gave a political colour to the event. “There has always been a segregation of these saints. One sect follows Dnyandev and the other Tukaram (an OBC). But that classification has never been emphasised deliberately for a political reason.”
He said the involvement of politicians like Bhujbal and Munde will further highlight that line of separation.