Don’t blame me for calling Gandhi ‘casteist and a racist’: Indian American Dalit writer Sujatha Gidla 

“If I hadn’t been asked about Gandhi, I would never have said he was a casteist and a racist,” the writer tweets.

Indian American Dalit writer Sujatha Gidla said she should not be blamed for calling Mahatma Gandhi “a casteist and a racist.”

“If I hadn’t been asked about Gandhi, I would never have said he was a casteist and a racist,” the New York-based writer said in tweet on Monday.

In a previous tweet, Gidla had denied calling the Indian independence leader “a casteist and racist.”

The Press Trust of India reported that Gidla, while speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Rajasthan, during a session on “Narratives of Power, Songs of Resistance,” had called Gandhi a “casteist and racist” who wanted to support the caste system prevailed in India.

Sujatha Gidla
Sujatha Gidla; photo credit:

“How could one say Gandhi was an anti-caste man? He really wanted to preserve the caste system, and why he paid lip service to the upliftment of untouchables is because Hindus needed a majority against Muslims for political representation in the British government,” Gidla was quoted as saying by PTI.

“That was the only reason Hindu leaders ever took up caste issues,” she added.

“Gandhi was very casteist and racist indeed and any red-blooded untouchable will know what Gandhi’s real intentions were,” said the New York-based writer.

Lashing out at prominent Dalit leaders Mayavati and Jignesh Mevani, Gidla said they have a limitation in working for Dalits since they have “chosen to work under the framework of electoral politics”.

“Everyone says BSP has given rights to untouchables, it gave them self-confidence and dignity. But really nothing came out of it. Mayawati made herself very very rich, her brother made himself very very rich. And that is all that happened to Dalits,” she said.

Though she appreciated the efforts of Mewani, the young Dalit leader, who was elected as a lawmaker in recently held Gujarat state elections, Gidla said he would also have to work within the limited framework.

“Jignesh Mevani right now seems militant and his protests against Una flogging are very admirable but then again he has chosen to work under the framework of electoral politics and there is only so much he can do from within it,” said Gidla.

Born in a Dalit family in Andhra Pradesh, Gidla moved to the United States at the age of 26. She is the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway. Her first book, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India was published last year.

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