Najda Raihan talks to Bhupali Kusum Vitthal who studies in JNU and works with BAPSA. Here are some excerpts from the talk.
What is the significance of a subaltern political party like BAPSA in the JNU Campus?
JNU is politically RED; and the left student organizations slogan is that this will be retained in the campus. They claim that they will/ would raise the issues of the Muslims, Dalits and the Adivasis. Hence, they always try not to allow space for other organizations; specially, those of identity politics.
BAPSA took form in November 2014. This is an Ambedkarite movement. They creatively involve not only in the Dalit issues, but also, in the issues of other backward classes, Muslims, Kashmiris and issues of students from North- Eastern states and also the LGBT communities in the campus. We understand that the Left in India is a failure in resisting Brahmanism. Hence we believe that “JAI BHIM” should be the slogan of the campus rather than the “LAL SALAM”.
Generally, JNU is described as’ Left Brahmanical Agrahara’. Is there any difference between the left-right Brahmanism in this campus?
Here, the left-right organizations are working only for votes. Both sides are trying to ensure and maintain their dominance in the campus. And they are under the dominance of Brahmanism. Therefore they will never allow you a space. Both the sides keep up Brahmanist, capitalist and fascist ways. Though there are differences in the brahmanical nature, both are trying to suppress subaltern politics. Hence, though their ways are different, it would be right to say that there is not much difference in the let-right Brahmanism. While one of them claims to be secular, the other self-proclaimes as nationalists. This is the only difference between them. But, both are clearly savarna and keep up an attitude against subaltern politics.
How do you analyze the activities of BAPSA as a Dalit female student?
I’m indeed proud to be a part of this organization. Dalit society is also male dominant up to an extent. The issues concerning women were knowingly or unknowingly ignored within the Dalit society during the earlier years. At the same time, as the savarna feminist groups never addressed the issues of the subaltern women, we had to stand up for our rights. We hold discussions with the male counter parts of the subaltern societies to convince them the issues of the marginalized women and to enhance and ensure their support for their activities. Such discussions are very effective as well.
How do you observe importance of the BAPSA-SIO unity in the current situation?
BAPSA-SIO unity is a very organic one. It’s a coalition formed out of the common political grounds. Let me tell you in the beginning itself, that this is not an election oriented coalition. BAPSA and SIO are the organizations which understand the Indian caste issues in the right way and question the current savarna politics.The left organizations in JNU claims that organizations like BAPSA and SIO are trouble makers.
They always accuse SIO as fundamentalists. This “forward” organization describes the organization for lower caste politics as the ones who spread dirt. The truth is that the Leftist organizations like SFI are afraid of identity politics! Yet, they raise fake claims that they are also doing the same thing whenever we bring up the subaltern issues.
How far or what are the possibilities of Dalit-minorities’ unity outside the campus?
There are some communities who are invisible in the public spaces. Our activities are for them too. The political organizations like these come under a single platform on the issues like Rohit, Najeeb and Bhopal fake encounter cases. We can see that the initial responses and voices that hurled out in the societies were always raised by the political parties from the marginalized communities. Such groups are formed not only in the campuses, but in public spaces also.
There is an accusation that there is caste discrimination for students’ admissions to central universities. How do you respond to this?
This is not just an accusation, but a reality. The entrance is based on written exam and interview. In this, the students from dalit and backward classes are not awarded even minimum marks for the interview. This creates a significant fall in the total marks scored by the ones who even performed well in the written exam. Due to the same reason, students from Dalit-Muslim & minorities are very few in the central universities. This maintains such colleges as brahmanical agraharas.
Have you noticed the recent news from Kerala, of physical atrocities towards girls who belong to other parties by the Left student organization?
Yes, I noticed the news from Govt college, Madappalli. It of course deserves to be resisted. Sangh Parivar and their Police (Delhi Police) attacked the protesters including women who marched with regards to Rohit Vemula issue. Both are real fascism.
How do you understand the Brahmanism & left politics of Kerala?
I feel that Kerala is not outside the Indian Brahmanical map. The continuous atrocities against Mrs. Chithralekha, a Dalith woman, in Kerala, claiming as the most enlightened, by the Keralite left organization is an example for this.
How popular is the subaltern politics outside the Dalit-Muslim categories?
The role of our media in making something popular & unpopular is quite big. Every media has their own parameters and languages. Several savarna-caste based honour killings are held in India. Yet they never become a news of importance to our public conscience. We should remember that these are not from any other planet; but from our own country!