An invitation extended to BJP national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan to deliver a talk on Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14) at Lady Shri Ram College was cancelled by the organisers, the SC/ST Cell of the college, following an outcry by Students Federation of India (SFI).
Mr. Paswan said he was deeply disappointed as he had started preparing for the talk on the subject — ‘Ambedkar Beyond the Constitution’ — and had made time for it on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti.
“Apart from my political affiliation, I am a Dalit myself, and come from an academic background. I have even co-authored a book Makers of the Modern Dalit History and was willing to engage with the students. I feel that my voice has been stifled. This is disgraceful,” Mr. Paswan said.
‘No order from college’
In a message informing Mr. Paswan that the talk had been called off, the organisers said there has been no such order from the college administration, however, there has been a huge outcry from the students’ body stating their disagreement with this talk.
“This is a reaction based on a mix of recent developments in Karnataka and JNU. Since, we would like to refrain the atmosphere of the SC/ST Cell, especially LSR from becoming a political space instead of an academic one, it was in the best interest of the institution to cancel the event (sic),” the message read.
Prachi, secretary of the SFI unit at LSR, said her organisation has expressed its disagreement with calling someone from the BJP to deliver a talk on Ambedkar even though the speaker has academic credentials. “The BJP has a history of being anti-Dalit and an invite to a spokesperson of the party would be making a mockery of Ambedkar Jayanti. How can we keep the politics of a person aside and look only at his work? This cannot be done,” Ms. Prachi said.