Bahujan Azad Party: Dronacharyas, step aside! Eklavyas are coming

The party that made news a couple of days ago has come under attack from those who consider themselves Donacharyas of Dalits and OBCs. But as Nawal Kishore Kumar discovered after meeting the IIT graduates who launched the party, they have a dream inspired by Phule and Ambedkar

Kya Nahi Hai In Ghucchi Ankhon Mein is a poem written by the famous Hindi poet, Nagarjuna. He wrote this poem during the period of total revolution. That was a long time ago. The eyes described in Nagarjuna’s work are no longer “ghucchi” (not fully open). They have now started seeing the world around. However, it is unacceptable to some that those who once dared not look up, have now started staring them in the face. Among them are the ones who consider themselves the “Dronacharyas” of the deprived class.

This is about a group of IIT graduates belonging to the nation’s majority OBC, Dalit and Adivasi communities. Recently, they formed the Bahujan Azad Party (BAP) and applied to the Election Commission for registration. This news was covered by almost all the noted dailies a couple of days ago. It spread like wildfire even on social media. Everyone was inquisitive about these daring IIT graduates.

The founding members of the Bahujan Azad Party

No sooner had this discussion begun than a former editor and well-known social media activist posted on his Facebook page a comment that these Dalitbahujan IIT alumni were being backed by the RSS. He also wrote that RSS wanted a disaggregation of the Bahujan votes. This had an impact. Some former journalists known to be mindful of Bahujan interests started labelling these IIT graduates as RSS agents instead of welcoming their courage. I found this entire episode strange. I had a question in my mind: Didn’t the people protesting against these bold IIT graduates today also once make Rohith Vemula a great hero!

These IIT graduates have adopted the path of struggle. Taking the path shown by Ambedkar, they got educated and entered the country’s premier engineering institute, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Thereafter, they came together and formed BAP. The party has now 50 members. Are they now going to engage in a struggle? Are we assuming that the one who backed off from the struggle and ended his life is a great hero and the fighting youth are villains?

I found several phone numbers on Bahujan Azad Party’s Facebook wall and dialled them but no one picked up. Messages sent to these numbers remained unanswered. I wondered why these people who had shaken Dalit-OBC politics in a single day were not willing to speak. Are they scared? This situation can be compared to that of the students’ struggle under the leadership of Lalu Yadav in Patna. The media of the time had dismissed the movement. But the fire had spread. Students had taken to the streets. There was ruckus in the university campuses all over. Later, Jayaprakash Narayan led the student movement and as a result the ruling Indira Gandhi government at the Centre had to impose Emergency in the country. When the elections were held in 1977, the government had to make way for another.

Well, I got Akhilesh’s phone number on Wednesday. He is one of the main activists of BAP. I called to interview him and his colleagues. At the first attempt, the call went unanswered. Then I sent him an SMS. Anticipating that Akhilesh had read the SMS, I called him again after a while. I had anticipated well. We had a chat and planned to meet at a crowded area in Delhi at 2pm.

I reached the venue of the meeting on time. Since I haven’t been in Delhi for long, every place seems new to me. As I had a look at the surroundings, I found that I was in an area inhabited by many students. The appearance of the nearby shops seemed to confirm this character of the locality. The signboards suggested that I was in Katwaria Sarai – a small messy colony situated adjacent to IIT Delhi.

I informed Akhilesh about my arrival over the phone. He said he lived in a small room and some friends of his were visiting, so I should wait for 15 minutes. I was waiting. After about two minutes, Akhilesh called me and this time his two questions startled me. Sir, I guess you don’t have any camera, right? How many people are you? I remembered the campaign in social media to vilify them. These young men were so scared that they were hesitant to even meet me. I assured them that I was alone and had no camera. I added I was there to understand their viewpoint and to write about it.

Next to where I stood was a banyan tree. It was very hot, so I walked towards the tree and sat in its shade. Soon, two young men arrived and introduced themselves as Akhilesh and Vikrant. They welcomed me and we starting walking. At first, I thought that they would take me to their room and let me interview them there, but that did not happen. They took me to a park where groups of eight to ten young men sat. All of them looked tense.

“Sir, this is our team. This is where we make our strategies,” said Akhilesh.

In the park, we sat on a concrete bench under a tree. I was pleasantly surprised to know that the average age of all the young men was between 25-26 years. I met a few whose first beard was appearing. Fear was clearly visible in their eyes and on their faces, which they were trying to hide but in vain.

Well, the interview had started. I had Naveen with me, wearing a hat that had the face of Che Guevara printed on it. “We, too, have an understanding of politics,” he said. “Be it Mayawati or any one else doing Bahujan politics, they have merely played with the feelings of the Bahujans to secure their position of power. We want development – development that ensures due respect and equal rights for them.” Answering another question, Naveen said, “We don’t mind parties involved in the politics of social justice. They are doing their work, we shall do ours. If they understand our views, we will respect them. However, we will never join the BJP. This will be against our principles.” They have a deep hatred against Brahmanism. We also discussed the issues of Ram Mandir and Gau-Mans (cow meat). (See the video of the interview).

We were in conversation, in which every answer cast doubt on their self-confidence. But I was not disheartened. They went on talking about their strategies and expected guidance from me. As they did so, I recalled Baba Nagarjuna’s verses:

Kya nahin hain

In ghuchchi aankhoh mein

In shatir nigahon mein

Mujhe toh bahut kuch

Pratifalit lag raha he!

Nafrat ke dhdhkati bhattiya …

Pyaar ka anootha Rasayan …

Apurva vichhobh …

Jigyasa ki baal-sulabh tajgi

Thage jaane ki praayogik sidhai

Pravanchito ke prati athaha mamata …

Kya nahin jhalak rahi

In ghuchchi aankhon se?

Haayen, humhe koi batlaye to!

Kya nahin he

In ghuchchi aankhon mein!

Translation: Devina Auchoybur


Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +919968527911, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

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