The upcoming student union elections at the University of Hyderabad once again prove that Rohith Vemula was correct when he said “No left, no liberal left, and no radical left stand by the oppressed people of India”.
These elections are crucial for BJP government as it wants to create bastions in all higher educational spaces. Since it came to power at the Centre, it started implementing a policy of landing its members as the heads of these institutions. Among those initiatives, the selection of Apparao Podile as Vice-Chancellor of HCU is one.
Prior to his appointment, the BJP and RSS had given clear indications to its student outfit ABVP across the country to frame other organisations, particularly Dalit and minority student organisations, as anti-nationals so that they can ban these from campuses and implement the Manusmriti.
It was the result of those directions that agitations occurred in several higher educational institutions such as the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras, FTII in Pune, Pondicherry Central University, HCU and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
But everywhere Dalit and oppressed students resisted against the hooliganism of the ABVP and BJP. In this process, five dalit research scholars of HCU, who were active in the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), were suspended and socially boycotted by HCU administration and Apparao. Among them, Rohith Vemula committed suicide -- which created a nationwide struggle against the BJP Hindu fascist government.
Despite going through severe psychological stress, the ASA and its socially boycotted members were determined to continue the fight by forming a Joint Action Committee (JAC) with all the organizations of HCU except ABVP to get justice for Rohith Vemula.
The JAC, along with ASA, played a crucial role in spreading the movement across the world. This juncture divided the HCU student organizations into two camps; one is ABVP another one is JAC. Here onwards, the focus of Apparao and RSS extended from ASA to other organizations in JAC. It resulted in the police attack on students fighting under the leadership of JAC. Many students were jailed and prosecuted irrespective of their organizations. Apparao and the BJP were eagerly waiting to take on these students, particularly the ASA.
Hence the upcoming elections have become crucial for both Apparao, ABVP, BJP and RSS to crush the ASA and other organizations and also for ASA and other organizations to teach a lesson to the former.
Everyone is looking towards ASA and other organisations this election cycle and hoping the coalition or joint front, which fought under the banner of Justice for Rohith Vemula against Hindu fascist camp at the national level and university level will continue that spirit and teach a lesson to BJP and Apparao.
Inspite of the ASA's hard endeavour to continue “unity of justice for Rohith Vemula”, SFI and other organizations split from the movement and formed an alliance under the banner of ‘United Front for Social Justice’.
All organizations stand against the ASA in these elections. Now, the question is why the organizations which were part of Justice for Rohith Vemula movement left ASA alone in this struggle against the fascist BJP and Apparao? No one is with ASA and Justice for Rohith Vemula movements at least on moral grounds. What happened? Why did this crisis occur? Who is responsible for this?
Everyone is answering this question by saying that to defeat ABVP, we should stand ‘united’ and not support a ‘single organization’ that is ASA or an ‘individual’ who is a presidential candidate, Vijay Kumar Pedapudi, from ASA, who was also one of the five suspended Dalit candidates along with Rohith Vemula.
SFI and all small organizations say they tried their best to form a grand alliance against the ABVP but ASA, a ‘single organization’ did not want to go with them.
Hence they, excluding ASA, formed an internal and external alliance.
The question is how did the ASA suddenly become a ‘single organization’? And how did the suspended candidate of ASA become an ‘individual’? And how is it going to breach the “unity’ if you make an alliance with ASA and pose Vijay Kumar as presidential candidate? I think one has to think on framing ASA as a ‘single organization’ and the suspended candidates as just “individuals” under the rhetoric of ‘unity’.
It is fair to say that the ASA is an organization that believes in Ambedkar ideology but that’s not enough.
The suspension of ASA cadre involved the most appalling Hindu fascists that led to the social ostracization of five Dalit research scholars and suicide of one for raising their voices against the vicious attacks on democratic rights of the most oppressed people of this country.
One can’t simply say that the ASA is a political party’s student outfit. In fact, it is an embodiment of the voice of the marginalized, oppressed and depressed students across the country that is often unheard.
To drown this voice, BJP, VC Apparao and ABVP planned a systematic onslaught on the ASA which led to suicide of the brilliant scholar Rohith Vemula, who stood till his last breath with the students of the downtrodden and exposed the casteist face of the HCU administration, faculty and students organizations.
At this juncture, the suspension of ASA Dalit scholars and suicide of Rohith Vemula hit the BJP at the national level, and made all the intellectuals to come together to get justice for the five Dalit students and Rohith Vemula. Not responding to the Rohith Vemula movement, BJP has been waiting eagerly to crush the rising voice of the ASA and the movement.
The cruel eye of the BJP, RSS, and Apparao is focused on ASA and unity of the organizations that led the movement. Hence, if one observes the whole journey of the suspension episode and the justice for Rohith Vemula movement, we cannot say that the ASA is a ‘single organization’, and the candidates who were suspended are ‘just individuals’ and agree to frame them as a new phenomenon which fought against the Hindu fascist camp.
If any organization wants to teach a lesson to the BJP and Apparao by defeating the ABVP, it would continue with that unity built on the ‘suspension of five Dalit scholars’ and justice for Rohith Vemula movement.
And those who don’t want to fight the ABVP will find new ways to be away from that unity and movement. It is nothing but the backstabbing of the Justice for Rohith Vemula movement.
According to Rohith Vemula, the Brahmnized Hindu left pseudo revolutionaries will act like they are standing with the oppressed but when the crucial time comes, they look at the oppressed as ‘individuals’, ‘single entity’ and leave them by saying the ‘unity of the oppressed’ and to defeat the fascist force.
The same was repeated here again. Anyway, are they going to say that the ASA and Rohith have not fought and not been fighting to defeat the ABVP? Was the suspension of the five Dalit scholars, and the murder of Rohith Vemula not a result of that fight?
Let’s come to the rhetoric of ‘unity’.
When a subject that directly experienced the cruelty of the oppressor is chosen as the voice, then that voice is appropriate to send a strong message to the oppressor that the ‘more you oppress more we rise’ and thus help to strengthen the unity among the oppressed.
In HCU, the activities of ASA, suspension of its five Dalit research scholars and Rohith Vemula -- in a nutshell, the victimization of ASA -- resulted into the said ‘so called unity’ among the student organizations.
If one really wants to continue the prevailing so-called unity among the students, one cannot exclude ASA, which is the pillar and foundation of that unity, and should choose it as critical means to send a message.
It is the moral responsibility of not only the organizations which were part of Justice for Rohith Vemula movement but it is the responsibility of ASA and its suspended candidates to forward the ongoing movement against BJP and Apparao. Keeping that in mind, ASA requested the other organizations to stay aligned and decided to contest from the post of president that too with a suspended candidate, Vijay Kumar Pedapudi.
But unfortunately, as Rohith said, SFI and all the organizations isolated ASA by saying that to defeat the ABVP, we should not stand with a ‘single organization’. Here the question remains that why have they stood with the ASA in the movement to defeat the ABVP till now, and why not in elections?
Are the ASA and Justice for Rohith Vemula movement against to the unity of the students? The answer from them is a simple one word that it is ‘election’. It indicates that they will stand with us in the movement but when elections come, they will leave ASA and the suspended candidates in the middle of the road.
Apart from the SFI and its allied organizations, there are some organizations which differ a bit from the former. That organization is PEHEL. It agrees on all above points but will not stand by ASA. It cites its own reasons. Among those is that since it does not participate in elections, it cannot take sides with ASA. But it can campaign against ABVP. Because it looks at the ABVP as an oppressor. Since it will not look at ASA as the oppressed, it will not campaign for it. That is their logic. Anyway, Rohith has proved again that ‘No left, no liberal left, no radical left stand by the oppressed people of India’.
Murali Ramathoti is a PhD scholar in University of Hyderabad.