April 15, 2016

ABVP quick fix juxtaposing Ambedkar and Durga on its poster in Delhi University

The Telegraph - 14 April 2016

ABVP ties icon to Durga

The poster on a joint celebration of Ambedkar and Durga
New Delhi, April 13: If the posters had pictures of only B.R. Ambedkar, they would have achieved half the purpose. So Sangh student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad put an image of Durga alongside that of the Dalit icon.
The idea was simple: remember Ambedkar, whose 125th birth anniversary falls tomorrow, and remind its followers that this year it has coincided with Durgaashtami, a holy day for devout Hindus, never mind that the architect of the Indian Constitution was dead against Hindu beliefs and rituals.
The posters came up in a Delhi University college.

"Their posters have pictures of Ambedkar and Durga. Ambedkar had discarded Hindu orthodoxy over caste discrimination and untouchability. But the ABVP has a strong presence in our college. They have done this and nobody is protesting," said a Dalit student in Sri Venkateswara College.
Not many years ago, the ABVP used to be critical of Ambedkar for his views on Hinduism and the caste system. While it has had a change of heart, this is possibly the first time that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's student wing has put Ambedkar's picture alongside that of the goddess who slew the "demon" king Mahishasura.
Last month, during a debate in Parliament on Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide and the police crackdown in Jawaharlal Nehru University, human resource development minister Smriti Irani had been critical of Ambedkarite groups in JNU observing "Mahishasura Martyrdom Day".
Mahishasura is worshipped by many Dalit, Bahujan and tribal communities in eastern and southern India.
Manikanta, a political science research scholar in JNU and a member of the Ambedkarite group Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA), said the BJP and the ABVP were trying to bring Ambedkar into the Hindu fold.
"The asuras are seen as having the lineage of Dalits. They are de-radicalising Ambedkar. This move to put Durga's picture beside Ambedkar's is an attempt to suggest that Ambedkar was one of them," Manikanta said.
Yesterday, the ABVP had demanded that the central library in JNU be named after Ambedkar and a statue of the Dalit leader be set up on the campus.
Chinmaya Mahananda, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the ABVP had started celebrating Ambedkar because it was on the back foot after Rohith's suicide in January this year. The PhD scholar killed himself on the University of Hyderabad campus after being punished over an alleged scuffle with an ABVP leader.
Despite repeated calls, ABVP Delhi secretary Saket Bahuguna was not available for comment.