Raghuni Ram Shastri – an Embodiment of Political Commitment

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The man in picture is Raghuni Ram Shastri, 68, National President, Shoshit Samaj Dal. SSD was founded about fifty years ago. This party was originally Shoshit Dal founded by Jagdeo Prasad, nicknamed Bihar Lenin, legendary martyr for the cause of social justice. Shoshit Dal formed first ever government in Bihar led by a backward caste chief minister. This government led by B P Mandal as CM who later headed Mandal Commission and Jagdeo Prasad as a senior minister ran for forty five days before Congress Party withdrew support. This party later on merged with Samaj Dal founded by Ram Swaroop Verma of Uttar Pradesh to be renamed as Shoshit Samaj Dal. Ram Swaroop Verma had also established Arjak Sangh, a social cultural organization to spearhead cultural struggle against religious and cultural hegemony of caste system. Arjak Sangh and Shoshit Samaj Dal are twin organisations. Jagdeo Prasad was killed by police on September 05 1974 in a conspiracy hatched by feudal forces of Bihar. The mantle to fill the void in backward caste politics created by the assassination of Jagdeo Prasad befell on socialist leader Karpoori Thakur who belonged to a political stream different from that of Jagdeo Prasad. After a brief period following the demise of Karpoori Thakur, Lalu Yadav emerged as prominent backward caste leader. After Lalu Yadav was dethroned from power, Nitish Kumar took over. But through all these years the followers of Jagdeo Prasad didn’t join political parties led by Karpoori Thakur, Lalu and Nitish in Bihar and Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. They don’t consider these leaders worthy flag bearers of the legacy of martyr Jagdeo Prasad who symbolises uncompromising struggle against social political cultural hegemony of caste ststem. The supreme martyrdom of Jagdeo Prasad does not cease to inspire them and let them take any rest even after decades of dreary ideological political struggles which has mostly been on sideline, the main arena having been occupied by the likes of Lalu. They have not lost hope that one day their struggles will bear fruits, younger generation would come forward to receive the baton from them and their legacy would become mainstream political struggles and the ideals of social justice to realise which Jagdeo Prasad met violent death would be implemented on the ground. They would never betray the martyrdom of their leader. Their examples make us understand the role of martyrdom in politics and how martyrdom has lasting effect on the society at large and in particular on the followers of the leader. By their example we can understand the struggle of earliest Christians, the contemporary followers of Jesus Christ, who after crucifixion of Christ, never rested and went in war against Roman Empire whose elite class had killed Jesus.

There is a long list of social revolutionaries belonging to SSD from the days of Martyr Jagdeo Prasad who didn’t change party, worked tirelessly and selflessly for decades in a most resourceless condition till they turned into old guard and passed away. They worked alternately in SSD and Arjak Sangh. Many were killed and persecuted by feudals and their patrons in the state. Many have become quite old but they are still full of sparks. Raghuni Ram Shastri is one among them.

Raghuni Ram Shastri is an MA in Hindi literature. He is a landless dalit from Sasaram district of Bihar. He became active in SSD when he was young and student. He was made National President of SSD in 2013 after death of Jairam Prasad Singh. He is Chief Editor of his party organ Shoshit which has subscribers in almost all North Indian states, most of all in Bihar and UP. In the picture he is pasting 25 paise postage stamp on copies of Shoshit magazine after writing addresses of the subscribers on them. This he is doing from a one small room national office located right behind a slum in Patna. He also contributes articles in the magazine. After pasting postage stamps he would then put all copies in a piece of cloth to make a bundle and then carry it on his shoulder and auto rickshaw to the local post office to post them. He has been doing these works for the party organ for a long time. As the party has not many cadres and most of them being in districts away from Patna he has to shoulder all responsibilities himself. He is busy preparing for a dharna and demonstration program of his party on 31st October, 2019 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to submit a memorandum to the President of India. He, along with some other candidates from his party, also fought the last lok sabha election from Sasaram constituency and garnered 2416 votes.

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