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In JNU’s United OBC Forum, charges of casteism and an expulsion

If what happened five-six years ago can be called history, then history has repeated itself in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

The United OBC Forum – the organization of OBC students of JNU – has splintered. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Dileep Yadav – widely seen as the faces of the organization – have been accused of spreading casteism by fellow members.

Mulayam Singh Yadav (left) and Dileep Yadav

In 2009-10, the OBC students of the university established the All-India Backward Students’ Forum. The organization went on to wage many a battle on the issues related to OBCs and Dalits and scored many victories too. For instance, the organization introduced Mahishasur Day celebration on the university campus. But then, the organization had to face accusations of favouring Yadavs and spreading ‘Yadavvad’ and by 2013-14, it was all but dead.

Sometime later, some OBC and MBC students joined hands to launch the United OBC Forum.

 ‘This is a political pamphlet, not a wedding card’

 The issue at hand concerns this United OBC Forum (UOF). One of its leaders, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has been expelled. Yadav says that he came to know of the action taken against him from outsiders. He claims that he is in touch with other members of the core committee and that most of them have been appointed on his recommendation.

United OBC Forum’s logo and Mulayam Singh Yadav

It is noteworthy that the UOF had emerged in a short period of time as the main platform for raising social and educational concerns. Besides matters related to students, it was also vocal on issues pertaining to Dalits and the OBCs in general.

The charges against Mulayam Singh Yadav are of “casteist arrogance” and trying to establish the dominance of one caste over the organization. His colleagues say that his attitude towards women, MBCs and Pasmandas was “insensitive”. He has also been accused of using the forum to serve his personal interests in the name of social justice.

Viswambhar Nath Prajapati

Viswambhar Nath Prajapati, a member of the core committee of the organization, issued a press release that said Mulayam was trying to promote a particular caste, which was against the constitution and the spirit of the organization. He said the UOF was not the organization of a particular caste.

The grounds for expulsion

The UOF’s press release said that Mulayam had always been opposing representation of all communities in the organization, which is inimical to the building of a healthy society. The release lists ten reasons for Mulayam’s expulsion. They are:

  1. He consistently avoided bringing out pamphlets on issues concerning the MBCs and the Pasmandas. He directly and indirectly mounted pressure on other UOF members to refrain from writing on the social media pages of the organization.
  2. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Dileep Yadav raised funds in the name of the organization but did not disclose the amounts or the sources. They continued to commit financial irregularities despite a meeting being called to discuss the issue.
  3. When the UOF constitution was being drafted, Mulayam did not allow the inclusion of a provision ensuring representation of women. Worse, he used insensitive language against women. For instance, when a woman member made some suggestions for a pamphlet, he said, “This is a political pamphlet, not a wedding invitation”.
  4. Abhishek Saurabh, Viswambhar Nath Prajapati, Kanaklata Yadav and Jubair Alam had also played a key role in the agitation against the UGC gazette but Mulayam deliberately removed their names from a pamphlet issued in response to the gazette. The pamphlet appeared on news websites as being issued by Mulayam himself and not by UOB, which was immoral. He ignored the opposition of other members and their suggestions for making changes in the pamphlet and put up the uncorrected pamphlet on the OBC Forum’s Facebook page.
  5. Meetings were convened in December 2017 and April 2018 to discuss issues related to MBCs and Pasmandas. Mulayam response was to reject the very idea of the first meeting by saying that its agenda was useless. In the second meeting, he kept insisting that the MBCs and the Pasmandas did not concern the UOF even when  the two communities are very much a part of the OBCs.
  6. No OBC woman, Pasmanda Muslim or MBC was made a member of the UOF constitution drafting committee. Signatures of the members were obtained clandestinely, in an immoral manner, without informing the constitution committee and without calling a meeting. Backdated signatures of some members were obtained by pressurizing them.
  7. Mulayam Singh continued to control access to the email, YouTube, Facebook and other social media accounts of UOF and never shared the passwords and other details with other members. When core committee members asked him to part with the passwords and other details, he didn’t respond. This smacks of a dictatorial attitude.
  8. Instead of promoting OBC brotherhood, he tried to promote the people of a particular caste and ignored others who deserved attention, such as the OBC women, Pasmandas and MBCs.
  9. Without going through reports related to OBCs, he tried to misguide the OUF members. This led to students distancing themselves from UOF, instead of being drawn to it.
  10. Mulayam tried to induct Dileep Yadav into the UOF core committee despite the latter having quit UOF last year.

The press release said that in the future, any statement or activity of Mulayam Singh Yadav should not be construed as UOF’s official stand or activity. UOF is committed to annihilation of caste, the press release added, and to promoting democratic values, social and gender equality and ensuring the representation of Bahujans in all walks of life.

Mulayam Singh Yadav described the action taken against him as “one-sided” and said that the people whom he had brought into the organization had turned out to be Frankenstein’s monsters.

Be that as it may, if organizations with a declared objective of working for affording a life of dignity to the deprived, the exploited, Dalits, and the backward sections of society and freeing society from the poison of casteism themselves become victims of casteist dominance, it is bound to blunt political consciousness. UOF’s state of affairs assumes even greater significance because it represents Dalits and OBCs’ social and educational organizations, apart from their political outfits, also splintering.

Translation: Amrish; copy-editing: Anil


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