Smile Pinki, Pinki Sonkar
Here’s what: celebrity Pinky, now without the cleft and world-famous, is going to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections. For? Well, for something called the National Dalit Front, a group of Dalit parties trying to hurt the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh.
“We are going to unmask the anti-dalit face of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati through Pinki,” said NDF general secretary Udit Raj
“Since Pinki is a dalit and is well aware of the problems faced by the community, we have decided to take her in our public meetings, where she will narrate her experiences of discrimination, which are prevalent in our society,” Raj said.
The NDF general secretary also alleged that unlike the Maharashtra government, which provided flats to child-actors, who featured in the Oscar winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Mayawati has failed to do anything substantial for Pinki.
“A flat in Mumbai is worth crores and that’s what the Maharashtra government has done for the child artists of Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. Mayawati is yet to do anything substantial,” said Raj. [PTI, Lucknow]
The story mentions Pinki’s full name – Pinki Sonkar. That rang a bell. In Lucknow’s snobbish school called La Martiniere College, I had a classmate called Sonkar. He had a first name but we all called him Sonkar. That he was not from a middle class background like the rest of us was aparent despite him wearing the same school uniform. It was apparent in his manners and speech. He had a mole on the face, and that was the ostensible reason why many called him a fisherman. That, all knew, was a reference to his caste occupation, which was actually vegetable seller. Behind his back they would say, “A relative of his still sells vegetables! Saala Khatik!”
Nobody ever felt this was about caste though, nobody ever wondered. Nobody knew whether this made him SC or ST or OBC or what those categories meant, and no, there was no untouchability. There was sneer, there was contempt. There was bullying. It left him irritated and irritable…
I look back now and wonder what it meant for a member of the caste of vegetable sellers, who are supposed to be subjected to untouchability, to be studying with us in a school founded by an eccentric Frenchman and today dominated by Lucknow’s trading class.
Most of all, I wonder what our dear fisherman Sonkar is doing today.
Smile Pinki Sonkar, smile. But do you know something? One of these days you will realise why your campaign could never fetch enough votes. That’s because you are Sonkar, a minority amongst Dalits. UP’s Dalit population is dominated by Jatavs (formerly ‘Chamars’). Same caste as Behenji Mayawati.
Not your fault, Pinki, but if you see the other Oscar winner, Slumdog Millionaire, you will realise it’s D for Destiny. It’s written.