On the night of March 3, 2016, after his release, JNU Student’s Union President Kanhaiya Kumar made an impressive speech. The nation loves speech, the people had also liked Modi’s speech in past. Kanhaiya’s speech was not only telecasted on TV channels but it was the lead news for newspapers the next day. A lot of people in this country need a hero and if we observe the social media, Kanhaiya has been presented as a hero after his release. In the present scenario, the opposition and the so-called progressive people need a face against RSS, BJP and particularly Modi, this is what they have expressed after Kanhaiya’s speech. Kanhaiya has been talking about getting ‘azadi’ from sanghvaad, brahminism, casteism, manuvaad. However, would he show the mirror to his student’s organization All India Student’s Federation (AISF) and the party CPI? Would he liberate his own organization and party from these evils? Ideally, he should do this first, the country has been already fighting these evils.
The people, who have either observed or have been observing AISF and CPI in Bihar closely, would understand this issue. Both of these organizations have the negligible representation of Dalits. The state head or secretary of CPI – Bihar is Satya Narayan Sigh, who is from Bhumihar caste. Previously, Rajendra Singh held that position, who is from Bhumihar caste too. According to a source in the party, there are 31 members of the state working committee, which includes only one Dalit member named Janaki Paswan. The working committee consists of roughly 11 Bhumihars, 5 Rajputs. 4 Brahmins, 3 Kaysthas and half a dozen backward castes. It includes only one woman. Last year almost a dozen members were removed from the working committee. Most of those included people from backward castes and an Adivasi. The party called it an annual procedure but the question is why most of them were from marginalized groups? Actually, the party is infamous for its upper caste dominance in the state. At the national level, Sudhakar Reddy is the chief secretary and Gurudas Dasgupta is the deputy chief secretary. However, the national secretary of the party, D Raja, is a Dalit but he is from Tamilnadu.
Similarly, the state secretary of AISF, Sushil Kumar, is a Yadav whereas the State President is Parvez Alam, a Muslim. At the national level, Vishwajeet Kumar is the chief secretary, who is a Bhumihar from Bihar whereas Md. Qadir is the National Secretary. It is obvious that if one looks at the social structure of the leadership of Kanhaiya’s organization and the party, the Dalits would nowhere to be found. So, they want to be part of Dalit politics but they want Dalits to be their foot-soldiers and martyrs? This is the obvious reason why a party which claims to raise the issues of the Dalits and the marginalized could not win a single seat in the recent assembly elections in Bihar. It has already lost ground in Hindi states. The marginalized identifies itself with leaders such as Mayawati, Lalu, Nitish. It would be important to note that only 3 upper caste candidates from CPI could cross 10,000 votes in the recent assembly elections whereas 8 backward caste candidates from the party crossed 10,000 votes. It reflects that the leaders from the backward castes have a better support base than the upper caste ones.
There is one more important issue which needs mention here, almost 2 years ago there was an attack on Ambedkar Hostel (Dalit Hostel) in Patna allegedly by the Bhumihar students from Saidpur Hostel. They had hurled casteist comments on Dalit students along with the physical attack. Allegedly, the AISF leader and the then Vice-President of Patna University, Anshuman was part of the attack. Later Anshuman, who is a Bhumihar, was removed from the student organization for being involved in the activities against the organization. It is interesting to notethat the organization had made Anshuman a member to attract the support of students from his caste and very soon he was made the Vice-President candidate for the Student’s Union election. There are lots of instances of upper caste dominance in the left organization of the state.
Therefore, we do not need an ‘identical face’ of Modi. Like an old Hindi movie with a hero and a villain. Kanhiaya, who is from Bhumihar caste, has been mentioning Rohith Vemula and Ambedkar frequently. This is a good thing but is the dying relevance of the left and the strong emergence of the Dalit student organizations the reason behind that? The change in the strategy of the left would be incomplete without the representation question. If they have actually realized the mistake, then would they first liberate their organization and the party from Brahminism and Manuvaad? This applies to the other left organizations too.
Saroj Kumar is a journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated from Hindi to English by Atul Anand