By Anand Singh:
It may sound naive to quote a clichéd adage at the very beginning of this article, but since this is the only way I can stress my point without frittering away its meaning, I shall go ahead with it. ‘Universities and colleges in India have always been the nursery of future politicians in our country.’ The statement becomes even more contextual when we speak of varsities like Banaras Hindu University which were set up at the pinnacle of the freedom movement. The University has come a long way since then, from being a basket producing MPs (more than 120 MPs in the first Parliament hailed from BHU), the University has transmogrified visibly into a macabre experiment ground for RSS’s sectarian politics and for furthering its deeply chauvinist agenda.
BHU has, for some reason, been a deeply fortified saffron bastion. The student politics within the campus is dominated largely by the activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who take great pains in declaring their allegiance to the Sangh Parivar, every single time. Their nearest rival, NSUI (National Students Union of India) is heavily outnumbered when it comes to the strength of the party cadres. There were efforts to pump some blood into the body of the Student’s Federation of India during the period 2011-13 by some enthusiastic members of the party, but to no avail.
What is deeply unsettling though is the imminent possibility of an RSS takeover of the campus looming large over the entire discourse. The department of Political Science under the Faculty of Social Sciences stands as the fitting epitome of this menacing threat. The incumbent Head of the Department Prof. Kaushal Kishor Mishra takes pride in declaring allegiance to the extremist right-wing group in front of his entire class. During the course of the previous year’s election campaign in Varanasi, he was out on bail after an FIR was registered against him for allegedly inciting the crowd for attacking the controversial AAP leader Somnath Bharti.
Moreover, there is hardly any space for any form of political dissent in this central university. The ideological space within which fruitful discussions are supposed to take place has shrunk to become so infinitesimally narrow that it has now become difficult to breathe.
Meanwhile, these ABVP activists are known to be key rowdy elements within the varsity campus, and scuffles between them and the dissenting groups are frequent. Not for nothing did veteran Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry blamed the November 20-21 (2014) violence in BHU as being orchestrated by the RSS. One may also recall the unsavoury incident in which Raghu Ram and Gul Panag were threatened with bamboo sticks when they were out canvassing for AAP in the campus. That those who ran murderously after the duo were factotums in service of the saffron party was claimed by the victims themselves.
Morning Shakhas (masquerading euphemistically under the guise of physical fitness exercises) are organized at intermittent intervals at some of the playgrounds on the sprawling campus, chiefly at the one in front of the BIRLA hostel of the Arts faculty. Students in amazingly large numbers are seen wielding lathis with surprising dexterity. One need only take a stroll around the inner hostel arc on such eventful mornings to sniff the air permeated with the fissiparous agenda of the Parivar.
Ever since Prof G.C. Tripathi assumed position of Vice-chancellor, several senior RSS ideologues including the likes of Dattatreya Hosbole and RSS sah sarkaryavah Dr. Krishna Gopal are officially invited to BHU, in addition to the local RSS functionaries. Dr. Gopal also unveiled a special edition of RSS’s official mouthpiece Panchjanya in BHU on the occasion of Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Such is the audacity and collusion of the authorities with the saffron brigade that now hardly anyone appears to notice this grave anomaly, or the concerned people willingly choose to turn a blind eye towards such happenings. It appears, quite clearly, that they have their agenda written clearly on their to-do list.
I have my own inane logic, which you are welcome to refute in a healthy manner, for every political activity which rages inside the campus. Varanasi is still a deeply feudal society, and on top of it all it is often dubbed as the holiest of the seven holy Hindu cities. Ring any bells, eh? What everyone fails to see is the narrow film of retrograde feudalism and nuanced patriarchy within which the Hindu University of Banaras is forced to exist. Such conditions provide for an excellent breeding ground for RSS and its associate groups.
The popular clarion call among the students of the varsity goes like this: “Mahamana ki kaamna, sadbhaavna sadbhaavna” (Malviyaji wished for nothing else than comity and fraternity). I seriously doubt whether the founder himself would’ve found it pleasant enough to be at one with the prevalent truth.
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