Are the Hindutva leaders ready to debate the state of Dalits?


Abhay Kumar

abhay kumarWith the UP Assembly Elections (2017) drawing closer, the Hindutva leaders have started shedding tears for Dalits. Weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in which he said that one may attack him but not his Dalit brothers, BJP National Executive Member Sanjay Paswan wrote an opinion piece in The Indian Express ('Vote Bank To Thought Bank', September 6, 2016) and praised the policies of the Modi Government for Dalits, blaming the progressive sections for politicising the Dalit question.

Showering his praise for Modi, former National President of BJP Scheduled Castes Morcha and Dalit face of the saffron party Paswan said that 'The current prime minister came from a humble background. He is aware of the pain, agony, challenges, deprivations and everyday there at a socially disadvantaged person faces in the rural set-up.'

In order to woo Dalits and Backwards, Hindutva leaders often mention Modi's "humble" social background. In the past, BJP President Amit Shah claimed that the BJP gave the country the first OBC PM in Modi. Even during the General Election campaign 2014 and after, Modi himself mentioned his caste identity. Paswan's article operated within the same trope.

Does one's social background matter? Yes it does. I see force in the argument in support of representation and diversity. Yet, I do not think that that one's "humble" social background, excluding all other factors, makes him infallible, as Paswan seemed to argue. One should not forget that a large number of Dalit leaders were deployed by the high-caste Hindus to confront Babasaheb Ambedkar. Bahujan leader Kanshi Ram rightly called such people chamchas (stooges) who played in the hands of the high caste Hindus.


On the Orientalist Savarna Perception of equating SIO with ABVP


Waseem RS

 On the Orientalist Savarna Perception of equating SIO with ABVP, of twining SIO with the ghost of Global Islam and the Politics of Social Justice in JNU

waseem rsThere is no novelty in the charge of equating SIO and ABVP as the two sides of the same religious ideology. As a Muslim student activist, who works with SIO and other like minded religious minority organization in this campus, let me clarify some of the issues. I don't believe in the possibility of any dialogue with the Savarna left/right forces in this campus but I hope my explanation will help to clear ambiguities in this space and add to the growth of the new political imaginations of the oppressed in JNU - that have already gained momentum with the victory of BAPSA.

SIO- JNU in its election pamphlet and subsequent social media debates clearly stated that their support is for politics of social justice and it includes the fight against injustices of caste, community, capitalism, gender and sexuality from an intersectional/entangled perspective. Also I have raised the problem of various strands of elitism (elitism I consider as a political stand) within the Muslim community, pointing to the problematic social position of my friend Umar Khalid and the paradox in forming an organization like BASO*. I believe in extending this criticism to any Muslim organizations/formation – including SIO branches in other contexts- and ready to take the task ( and a risk!) of fighting it both inside and outside the organization but without necessarily yielding to the narcissistic fantasy of savarna/Brahminic public sphere and political organization - especially those Savarnised (left, feminist, LGBT and right) group at JNU. I am ready to listen and engage with any criticism from a Bahujan political point of view ( especially on caste, sexuality and feminism) around the problem of Islamic/Muslim political praxis in India. This is my duty as an Islamic activist and in my knowledge, it concurs with the Islamic politics imagined by contemporary Muslim scholar-activists such as Hamid Dabashi, Houria Bouteldja, Farid Esack, and Salman Sayyid etc.


Chalo Udupi


Dalit and Oppressed Self-respect Movement Committee​

Friends and Well-wishers,

chalo udipi3Dalit and progressive organisations held a meeting in Freedom Park on 26th August to lay the foundation for a social movement in the wake of rising assaults on dalits, minorities, women and the oppressed. The participants, nearly 250 of them, had elaborate discussions and decided on the following:

1. The movement's aims and objectives: Protest against cultural politics of using the 'sacred cow'. Prevent atrocities on dalits, minorities, adivasi, women and the oppressed. Pressurise the govt to take action and protect fundamental rights.

2. To form a decisive movement to prevent repeated atrocities on dalits and untouchability in rural and modern life including education, housing, media, Government and the private sector.

3. To protect the rights of dalits, minorities and backward communities to eat food of their choice including beef.

4. To demand a minimum of 5 acres of land for all dalit families.

5. To defeat the right wing and brahminical politics. To prevent young men from the backward communities being used by the Sangh Parivaar. Educate to change the minds of dalits and the oppressed who have already become slaves of brahminical organisations.


Article 14: Ladai Barabari Ki – Stand Up for Equal Rights



Renowned and popular Dalit bands and artistes will be performing in Delhi on the eve of the march to Parliament House, organised by various Dalit organisations and workers' associations under the aegis of Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh. Prakash Ambedkar, national leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), and Bezwada Wilson, founder and national convener of Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), will also be present.

poster article 14 sahmat

Music conveys what slogans and speeches can't. A new set of Dalit groups and artistes are now emerging, who unhesitatingly convey their experiences, grievances, anger as well and hope and expectations of all that they see around them.


JNUSU Elections: The myth of Left Unity and the upsurge of the Oppressed


C Ahamed Fayiz

c ahamed fayiz"It is your claim to equality which hurts them. They want to maintain the status quo. If you maintain your lowly status ungrudgingly, continue to remain dirty, filthy, backward, ignorant, poor and disunited, they will allow you to live in peace. The moment you start raising your level, the conflict starts". ~ Dr B. R Ambedkar

After the alliance of the left parties AISA and SFI in the campus swept all four seats in its students' union (JNUSU) elections, reports and analysis are coming out on the victory of the left over ABVP and in another sense victory of Marxism over Hindutva. In a move that was seen as an 'ideological compromise', Communist Party of India (Marxist) affiliated Students' Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students' Association (AISA), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), decided to form a 'united front' to fight the JNUSU elections this time.

The alliance won all the four posts that include president, vice president, general secretary and joint secretary of JNUSU while the two year old Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA) challenged the hegemonic politics of both left and right wing students organisations in the campus through a close fight. For the post of president Rahul Sonpimple of BAPSA gained 1545 votes and lost against AISA–SFI alliance by a margin of just 409 votes. Mohit from AISA has been declared the president having secured 1954 votes. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which after the gap of 14 years, in 2015, managed to win one out of the four posts, was completely decimated this year. It even lost all seats of councilors. However final results show the strong support ABVP has managed to garner in the campus which cannot be underestimated. Had it not been for the left alliance they would have managed to secure at least two posts in the central panel who finished second for the post of vice president and general secretary.


Kabali has roared: Why BAPSA was the real winner of the JNU student polls


Dhrubo Jyoti

I have never been a big fan of presidential-style debates or Jawaharlal Nehru University. The former almost always reduces social justice to grandstanding and the number of hunger strikes while the latter takes itself too seriously as the citadel of equality, never mind the festering casteism, sexism and homophobia.

panel bapsa

Therefore, when I managed to sneak into the university's south Delhi campus last Wednesday, I had little hope of a politically engaging process. For the most part, the debate scraped the bottom of the barrel – dominant caste men hid their caste, shouted at Dalit men; men ordered women to sit down, parties wrangled with each other's history as if anyone had a clean slate, and gender justice was bandied about like some meaningless word. A progressive candidate even expressed his support for the army.

But the night was saved, for me, by the perceptible influence that the historic and powerful campaign by the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Student Association had left on campus politics and other presidential candidates.

For the first time, political parties are trying to read up Ambedkar, talking about him in their speeches, mentioning his politics, even appending jai bhim to everything they do.


SIO JNU stands with BAPSA: Vote for the politics of Social Justice



The JNUSU elections of this year is important not only because it is under a tyrannical regime in the centre we are in, but it is also a time when large forms of resistance movements are getting strengthened across the country. The key speciality of these movements is that it is not from the mainstream parties that these movements arise but from the various groups which demand for social justice and dignity. Starting with the movement for the justice for Rohith Vemula to the recent Dalit uprisings in Una in Gujarat clearly shows the vibrancy of these political initiatives. Once we come into the campus politics, one should see this political shift along with the change in demographic patterns of Dalits, Muslims and the Oppressed communities as a paradigm change happened with the Mandal committee recommendations. At the same time, an analysis of the current political scenario in JNU will give us both an insight into the drawbacks of the current left politics, which is characterized more by unity rather than contradiction with its so called opposite; and on the other side, it will also show the prospectsoffered by the allies of social justice.

bapsa supported by asa - tiss

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the official vanguard of Brahmanism in the campus, is continuing with their heinous propaganda to divert public attention from the social justice politics into mere nationalism discourse. At the same time, the left is also not ready to attend the questions of social justice and they keep on branding any assertions from the marginalised sections as communal or sectarian. In other words, if the marginalized sections organize themselves for the cause of social justice, the Leftists will also start to call them as 'communal' and 'extremists'. One can see behind this reluctance of left, their unwillingness to share their 'sacred spaces' with the students from the marginalised community. The mere use of political tokenism cannot justify the prolonged silence of left parties on muslim representation. At the same time, the left parties continue to deny the political agency of muslims, at the same time.


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