Pradeep Narwal | MoC: Hindu Nationalism | The PaRChA Project

Pradeep Narwal | MoC: Hindu Nationalism | The PaRChA Project


The kind of idea is like this is to get a
sense for the viewer that campus is some kind of an important experience to shape kind of
political attitudes. So, if you could kind of, for instance, tell
a bit about yourself, how you came to be involved in politics in JNU. in which year, which organisation,
how, what are the kind of deciding factors that brought you into that environment. These kind of things as a start. I came to JNU in 2015 and when I came to campus;
I joined ABVP, Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad. I think you must be aware of that. I am aware but you know for the sake of it I joined ABVP. It’s only because in the state from which
I came up because there are some political contradictions due to which I came in ABVP. Before coming to JNU, many people before coming
to this kind of campus, people are not that much aware of social, political and all these
debates and all these ideological debates. So when they came to campus they only knew,
most of the people who are not from DU; they only knew two parties, ABVP and NSUI. So when we came to campus, I had a friend
in ABVP, he asked us to join the party, we joined the party but I remained there for
like five months, then I left ABVP. Rohith Vemula movement was taking place and
JNU thing happened; the JNU controversy happened. Then I left ABVP at that point of time So were you politically active before campus? No, no, no. I was not. I was preparing for civil services but when
I came to JNU; JNU gets up into this kind of politics. At least this is the first thing JNU does
with you; it gets you into the politics, irrespective of whether you keep on preparing for civils
or not but somewhere it will engage you in politics. Yeah, yeah. So the second thing you asked me about the
need of universities, right? Yeah, I am more interested in your experience
first. So after you left ABVP The excuse was like you know when we came
to any political party; sometimes we are having some personal experience in our lives which
very much overpower the other realities in your life. So we have some personal experiences with
the..in Haryana, some local Congress unit, that’s why we prefer ABVP, but that time we
came in ABVP, we realized that this is a very fascist organization and they are very anti
people, anti Dalit. I came from a Dalit community basically so
we found that they are very anti village, anti Ambedkar and.. But what brought you in ABVP in the first
place if you now think that its..? It is a very long story. Three days back a very big Congress leader
asked me this thing so I’ll tell you that story. In 1995, there was a rape case in my village;
from my community a village girl was raped and she was burnt alive and she was raped
for like seven days. That girl was from my community and instead
of giving justice to our people, the government put my uncle and everyone in jail at that
point of time and at that time Congress was ruling Haryana. So when we were young, so with that experience
we grow with that experience everyday that this happened in the Congress government,
that justice was not delivered but after some point of time when I came to JNU and after
when I engaged with this movement, I also came to know that Congress is much more than
an individual. So then I realized it. About the question of coming to ABVP, I would
say that my personal experiences overpowered the broader understanding which should have
built up at that point of time and otherwise also if you see society, what is society? Society is a right wing thing; society is
right wing. Indian society is right wing, when we talk
about liberal issues, when we talk of Bhagat Singh, when we talk of Marx, when we think
about them and give their understanding of society, so they are..like society is casteist,
society is patriarchal, society is feudal and these are the right wing tendencies. So to get into the BJP, to get into this ABVP
is very easy Would you say its natural? It’s very natural but when the point is to
question the caste, patriarchy and the feudal system, then you will get into some other
kind of politics, like when we engaged with the caste, when the Rohith Vemula movement
was happening, when he was murdered at that point of time, when the JNU controversy happened,
then we realized that it is much more than, you know, just about the personal experience. It’s about the whole humanity, like today
BJP is putting whole humanity…Then we realized it and we quit the ABVP. It was like more than three and a half years,
this was like 16th February. Was the 2016 event really important in shaping
your decision to leave? Yeah Was it a trigger of things you were really
thinking or was it an eye opener like, ‘oh my God, okay now I know the true face of things.’ When I came to JNU, I contested from the ABVP
as a counsellor but after that incident, I still remember, I think in the last week of
September or the first week of October, Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri. It was that year only. So I discussed with my unit that Akhlaq, father
of an army man or he was in air force basically, he got murdered and mob lynched; at least
we should come with a parcha, a statement condemning this act. This was the last time when ABVP condemned
it, any mob lynching, after that they never condemned any mob lynching. I was in ABVP at that point of time but I
asked them to condemn that and they came up with the parcha. After that the Dalit atrocity thing happened,
they again we forced them to condemn that in the parcha. After we left ABVP, they never condemned mob
lynching, they never condemned any caste atrocity thing or something. After that Rohith Vemula thing happened, Rohith
Vemula got murdered after that. Then we started aside-ing from them. Then we thought that now the end has come
up and we should not associate with them anymore, because they are killing Muslim dalits so
now it can’t be accepted, but when the JNU controversy happened, it happened on 9th February
2016 and when I resigned, the date was 17th February 2016. So the point is that you may be having fight
with some, ideological fight with some political party but you can’t kill any ideology. Basically, in society every kind of thing…India
is very diverse. So I feel all the waves should exist; they
should co-exist in the system but I see when the idea of university was being deleted from
this country, when the idea of university was being destroyed. I will tell you one thing very clearly, before
coming to JNU, I have seen campuses politics but from very distance, like in DU, I saw
DU politics but I saw in DU without money, muscle you can’t win in DUSU election. To fight DUSU president, you must be having
a force, even from the NSUI side as well, both; NSUI and ABVP both. I won’t spare anyone. Today I am in Congress but I won’t say that
NSUI was on the right side; that was not the case, but when I came to JNU I saw that people
can do politics in very meagre resources, very less resources, they can do politics
over a cup of chai. They could like just revolve around in campus
because I was not from very well off family; I am from lower middle class. My father was sepoy in CRPF, he was in military. So when we saw JNU, we were clear that we
are in ABVP but at that same time we were also aware of the fact that I am just doing
politics in JNU, just because this environment has provided me the opportunity to do politics
in these circumstances, but if were in DU, I would either be in ABVP or any other political
party, I want to do politics in these limited resources. So I was very much sure that I want this idea
of JNU and this idea of university, not any other idea of university, at least this side
of university to get into the other campus of this country but when this idea of university
was being destroyed then I thought that no, I can’t take it anymore so I just came out. The pamphlet you wrote, the resignation pamphlet
you wrote with other people, right? After the 9th of Feb? Yeah, yeah two other people, Ankit and Rahul. Was it a well thought decision or was it a
really like impulsive? No, if it would be impulsive then it would
be just after the 9th of February. Why have I taken more than eight days? Because the point was that we were discussing
the things, let’s not do this What were the discussion within ABVP? They are very much clear that they want to
destroy this university. I asked them, “how could start #shitdownJNU?” Because primarily we should all believe this
fact that this university is ours. This is a fact. This university belongs to everyone, even
if someone is from ABVP, someone from AISA, someone from NSUI. This university belongs to everyone. This university is not restricted to a left
people, or liberal or NSUI or AISA, it extends to everyone, it extends its privilege to everyone,
this privilege of intellectual environment. So we discussed that thing but they were like
no this university has produced nothing for this country, this university has just destroyed
everything. When I was in ABVP, I came with a very well
patterned set of thoughts. Then I came to know that capitalism and Brahmanism,
both are same thing. Both believe in the accumulation of wealth,
like see the model of the university in other parts of the country and the model of this
government, they are quite similar. What Modi is doing? He is sucking the money from the economy and
putting others on his mercy or something or whatever you may call that, and in the university
also happens that thing. They have big fees in the university, you’re
on the mercy of VC, he can throw you out and your career will be destroyed, if you spend
huge amount of money. But in JNU, you are given some freedom, like
you don’t have that much fees, you think, you transcend all the boundaries, you transcend
your mind, your identities, at least first you develop an identity and then you transcend
that. So, coming to JNU and when we were in our,
I did my B Tech, Engineering…I am from chamar community, we used to be ashamed of our caste. Chamar is like a slang in India. It’s a very vulgar word, if people call you
a chamar. It’s very bad. The people feel very bad about it but this
is my community. So before coming to JNU, I was like, I never
used to tell people my community. If someone asked me, I was like I don’t want
to tell you my community but JNU gave me that confidence from the stage I can say that I
am from the chamar caste. This university has given me that confidence,
that assertion of identity which was not possible in DU or any other university. In JNU, its possible. But in Delhi University, it’s not possible. People hear talk about how this entire 2016
event unfolded and like here and there we would say, yeah, of course, ABVP/RSS kind
of planned and there were people in JNU who were also involved in devising the strategy
of arresting student leaders and were there any kind of discussions you had or any things
that you saw that the organization did in order to facilitate what unfolded in 2016? No, I always said one thing, if someone has
given a slogan then put him behind bars, that should be a well settled constitutional process. You should go to a court, file the case and
get them arrested. If you feel someone has raised the slogan. What’s the point of doing this whole media
trial?! You are three years from that case, more than
three, three and a half years but still you are not able to file the charge sheet, still
after three and a half years. BJP has fought three or four elections on
this issue, they fought the vidhan sabha election on JNU, Lok Sabha election on JNU, but they
are not putting the case to an end, but they are stretching the thing. So, my word is that I can assure you this
thing that BJP/RSS have hatred for this university. They have hatred for everything because they
have this hatred for this university because this university believes in equality, fraternity. This university believes in the ethos they
hate, so they hate this university from very early. When I came to ABVP also, they also they used
to say that this should not happen, this university is not nationalist..So they are like that. They get a chance from this event..let’s trigger
it up and fuel the things. So this is their mind set up. When I just came to campus, I was ideologically
very much clear. Like I didn’t read Marx at that point of time
but I knew who was Che Guevara. I still remember my phone, my phone’s wallpaper
used to have Che Guevara pic. Like today also I have Yeah I can see on your whatsapp Its an old habit. When I was in ABVP, I’ll tell you this is
very interesting, so once we were sitting in Narmada hostel, we are discussing of the
RSS people, I was a confused kind of.. I was like, no.. when I started the politics
in JNU, I was like I’ll do some change, that thing was also in my mind. I’ll do some work for the people and at last
I did that thing only but that route was something else but I was very clear that I believe in
Che, so Anand Sirnivas, he is a good friend of mine, he came to me, how you’re…what
the hell is this killer on your wallpaper? He killed many people, how could you do this? I said he maybe a killer for you, he may have
killed..for his people, he is a liberator. So we used to be historian, I am a historian,
we used to look at history in the manner we can see and I am giving you an example, like
Bhagat Singh for us is a shaheed, he is a martyr but for Britishers he was a terrorist. It depends on how you look at this struggle. That is how we should look at it. There is something that comes to my mind about
what you’re saying. This being in ABVP but upholding Marx and
Che Guevara and also kind of comparing the ABVP and the Right to capitalism. There is this Left way of understanding the
Right while being in the Right. Do you see that the organization was also
influenced by the JNU environment while being against JNU but also kind of having some kind
of JNU mindset also within themselves? JNU ABVP they don’t have any Left..They have
a character different from the outside but still they don’t have that mindset. My case was different, like when I came to
…I belong to Dalit caste and I told you my story. My people got raped when we were young so
we voted with anger and we always loved to see any rebel that is the case. So when you see like, I joined ABVP in August
2015, I left ABVP in February 2016. I was there for five to six months. You can see that 2013 I was having Che Guevara
photo as my face book wallpaper, facebook wallpaper, Facebook cover page in 2013. “You should not have put the pic Che”,
My point is that I was aware of the thing but I was not sure that Modi would be that
monstrous for this country, then I was like okay, I’ll operate in this thing, I’ll try
to change the things in the ABVP, in this right wing politics, …but they are very
stubborn. They have a very clear mind; you can’t change
it. You can’t make it pro poor, you can’t make
it pro Dalit, you can’t make it pro women, they are very clear. Even though in the discourse they say we are
pro woman, we are pro Dalit, we are inclusive, we are oneness whatever whatever They are inclusive; they are having oneness
only for the people which people in their agenda of hatred. If you keep mum on their killing of Muslims,
Dalits and rape of women, then you are very much inclusive with them. The point you raise a question, you will be
out. Recently a BJP MP, who joined Congress. He faced the same issues. He raised the question of Dalits and being
in BJP he thought I’ll raise but they just settle him aside So when you say that when you came to JNU,
you became more assertive about your identity and you used to ashamed of where you’re from
but now you’re proud. What enabled that change? This environment. This environment first of all empowers the
Dalit psychology; Dalit people are not broken by their body, they are broken psychologically
from their childhood onwards; ‘ the thing that you are Dalit,’ but JNU empowers you
first of all psychologically, mentally, makes you proud of your identity. It doesn’t need you to be ashamed of your
caste, this is how JNU functions. This is how I see this campus, and this happened
with many, several hundreds of people who feel very confident about their caste when
they come to JNU. Things are today that outside this campus,
Dalits are being beaten and raped. I mean, I won’t say that in JNU everything
is good but most of the things. We can’t see things in totality, we need to
be comparative. We need to compare JNU with other universities
in Delhi, we are far much ahead of other universities. And would you say that today BAPSA represents
interests of Dalits or that another form of Dalit politics is possible outside of the
agenda of Dalit based politics? I am in Congress; I am doing Dalit politics. I am working for the Dalits. Even now in the Ravi Das Maharaj Mandir movement
96 people are in jail. We are still meeting the families trying to
work out them. BAPSA is also working for the Dalit cause
and that’s a good thing but can’t say that they are the sole proprietor of the Dalit
cause. That can’t be true. They are one of the people who are working
for the Dalit politics. We are also one of the people. So we are part of the movement. Everyone. But it can’t exclude others. Everyone is doing is doing on their part. There is this competition to be representative
of the Dalit voice, right? Whether it is from the Left, whether it is
from the Right, whether it is from.. The representation question? Yeah. I mean you see it from the Left filling candidates
saying we represent the oppressed. I believe one thing. People are saying representation, representation. This fight is not restricted to social justice;
this fight is for social change. Sometimes I feel that this politics of representation
is failing, sometimes. We need the politics of representation and
it should be fulfilled but when you do the sole politics of representation, then right
wing will also do the representation like BJP does and your account they are killing
other Dalits. Like in JNU, Umesh Kadam is a professor of
Dalit community. He is being given representation, the chairperson
of CSH, but destroying the campus, he is a Dalit but he is destroying the campus because
with representation you should also have a clear cut ideology that we are against the
right and the fascist forces. So representation is not enough? It’s also an issue but not in totality. It’s one of the issues but at last representation
should also look at the frame of ideology. You know few people associate JNU to Congress
politics because the NSUI is relatively modest in campus. Was the idea of joining congress something
that emerged in campus or was it something that came to you later when you left? I was in Dalit movement. I saw Rahul Gandhi working very bluntly on
the Dalit issues. He gave them all the representation they required,
he gave them all the resources they required, the stage they required and moreover I see
Congress as a tool to fight against BJP. We don’t have that space to be against BJP
and Congress. Congress is a tool to fight against BJP and
otherwise it is not a part of a linear line, BJP has a linear line of fascism which is
based on the lines of Savarkar but Congress is not based on one line. Congress is the amalgamation of different
ideologies. In Congress, you’ll find a communist, in Congress
you’ll find a right winger, in Congress you’ll find an Ambedkarite, you’ll find a liberal,
you’ll find a feminist. In Congress, there is a fight of all these
things and whose narrative came out as a winner amongst them; that defines the Congress. The Congress got hegemonized by the right
wing people, then Congress become the right wing force but when it got hegemonies by the
Ambedkarite, it became the Ambedkarite force. Its character is about who is asserting themselves
in Congress. I see. So now you are not based in JNU anymore? No, I am working with chairperson of Haryana
Congress, SC department. So you come to campus, you’re still interested
in campus politics or? No, I was having meeting today And do you think that campus experience helps
you now to understand Haryana politics? This campus helped me to understand humanity
more than Haryana politics. Haryana politics you can learn from there
only but this campus gives you a voice, confidence to stand tall, be proud of your caste; Dalit
caste basically. In other spectrum, the only upper caste is
proud of themselves, in this campus you’ll learn being a Dalit and be proud of yourself. So this campus is necessary to learn and understand
the humanity and the different aspect of humanity. JNU stands for humanism. I think that’s our logo also; I said in one
of my speeches,” JNU stands for humanism, this is our logo…This is our last fight. Humanity will be our last fight. Humanity will be the last fight, what else? A lot of Dalit who are here in campus tell
me that they were unable to see the discrimination made against them before they actually applied
a political lens to those cases of discrimination, sometimes humiliation. Does the campus give in retrospect tool to
analyze your condition? Like I told you earlier, this campus can’t
be seen in totality or isolation. You need to be comparative of this campus;
this campus is not the best but the best among those that exist. So yeah this campus gives you the understanding
to see the things from different aspects, to see the thing deeper. So this campus provides that thing. In other universities, you can’t look at the
thing from similar level. This campus also provides that thing where
like Prakash..say that I am eating food with you. He said this thing, I am not a casteist, I
am eating food with you. But this campus also allows you to question
that thing; the point you say that you are eating food with me being a Pratap; you are
a casteist. Why do you need to describe that very explicitly? You don’t have to be explicit about it, you
can have food without discussing that thing. This campus is very conscious. Were there case of humiliation, discrimination
that now you kind of realize, now that you have come to JNU, university space and something
that you want to eradicate now that you are doing to scale up your politics in Haryana? I don’t know. I just want to open JNU in every city in India. This is my hope more than anything. You think it’s possible? It will take years. Maybe I won’t be alive to see that but to
start a journey even though it’s very long but you need to start from somewhere, so I
started it So you’re working with an MP at the moment
or you are in the..? I am working in the Dalit movement and Congress
also So you’re doing what more groundwork, more
advisory stuff..? Groundwork. I am doing groundwork. For someone in particular? No one in particular. I just travel through Haryana; I was working
with Dalit issues, I am still working on Dalit issues. Then also I used to work on Dalit issues Are there a lot of former JNU students in
that SC commission within Congress? JNU? In Haryana? Not in Haryana but in Haryana Congress we
are having one person, Ashok Tanvar, he is president of Congress, Haryana. He was also from Chamar caste. He is also from my centre So now you’ve dropped out from..? Yeah, I am in Haryana. I told you I came today for a meeting. You are not regretting that you’ve left JNU? Sometime I regret. I do agree but JNU is very hard to leave but
sometime we need to go out and put this utopia into reality, we need to work to put this
imagination of the nation into reality. This is an imagination, JNU is an imagination. You think that one thing that missing from
JNU is the inability to spread outside of the campus space? Yes, this is an inability but this is a nation. This is another nation from the outside nation,
India is having thousand nationalities. This is one of them. We need to get JNU outside of this campus. Now it’s happening. Now people are going outside. Now people are involving in outside politics. At the beginning of the interview you kept
on mentioning this question of parcha. When there is a case of lynching, you need
come out with a parcha, come out with a stand. Is this parcha thing important in structuring
the way contentious politics is happening in the campus? When I was in ABVP, it is not about parcha. Parcha is not the sole reality; the point
is that at least you need to put it out that you’re against it. ABVP is not ready to put it out that it is
against the killing of Muslims, but I wanted them to speak out but they didn’t want to
but I forced them. The point that after I left ABVP, there was
no parcha was there against that. They don’t condemn the killings of Muslims,
and Dalits. They don’t condemn rapes So but the parchas as an object, what kind
of function does it serves? It gives you a sense of dissent that you don’t
want to believe in that Is it useful to reach out to people? Is it useful to clarify your position? Is it useful to mobilize your cadres? At least from the Left and the Congress which
is doing politics, which is even somehow I would say saving the minority. At least we are saving the minority. They are standing with the minority but ABVP
also has the tag of being against the minority, that’s why I used to force them. If AISA or any other political party NSUI
don’t come out with a parcha sometime, that is okay but the point you are..ABVP is against
that thing, you are forcing them They don’t believe but they still do it; why
for vote bank politics? No, they have a social agenda. They are not having only vote bank agenda. They have social agenda; this country will
be divided into the temple, mosque, gurudwaras. This is a very long historical fight. Now, I decoded it. It’s very long; they are not only on the electoral
plank, the have a social plank. They want to make the Hindutva into a reality,
based on the book of Savarkar, Hindutva, you must have read that?! Haan, haan I read that so they just want to make that
happen in reality; Hindutva. And there is this hate everywhere Were there people important and instrumental
in making you realize the truth about the Right, the ABVP, the RSS, Savarkar while you
were still in ABVP at that time? When you were there, you started seeing that
there is something wrong about this. Yeah, yeah. I didn’t used to sleep sometime. I was like what hell am I doing here? I tried to..I was thinking that I will change
ABVP. There is someone who asked me, you are believing
in this Manu Smriti. I said one day I will burn Manu Smriti and
the day I left ABVP, I burnt that thing when I was leaving ABVP. Plus we thought we will change that structure
but that will never happen, they have very clear line; that we believe in this, this
and this. They can’t give space to any other ideology. But were there people that were outside of
that movement and helped you to realize that it was not suitable for you? Me? Yeah, friendships? No, no it’s not about friendship. I told you from very early when we came JNU,
I was clear with all the idea but not in the political form. I was aware of a little bit of Che, Marx,
Bhagat Singh and..but none in political form; in an ideological form only and also I used
to touch them, I didn’t know them fully. So that is the thing. So this campus is very anti status quo, and
Dalits of this country are also very anti status quo because they want to change this
hierarchy and this campus is doing that. So somehow you must be having that feeling
in your heart, that’s why you are changing. I also had this thing in my heart that one
day I will burn Manu Smriti and I will change them and if they won’t change, I will.. So it’s not because you encountered people,
it is because you felt it in yourself? Yeah. I was aware of the fact but I thought I will
change them but at the point I realized that I can’t them, I just came out of it. Were you ever tempted by the Left since it’s
a Left campus? Tempted, like.. Yeah, I was having good relationship with
the Left but that was very short lived. In Congress also, I am very Left Ambedkarite
person. You know Umar Khalid? Do you know him? Yeah, yeah of course. When I was contesting election from the ABVP,
he was standing..Someone asked me what about the beef festival in Kerala which ABVP has
vandalizing this meet festival and all this balh, blah? I said everyone is having freedom to eat anything
and I condemn that violence and people were like he is a soft sanghi, he is a left sanghi. So what does it mean to be a left sanghi? What did it mean? That he is in ABVP and he is a left .but I
always say that like the last three years I have seen myself growing up so I am always
a Left Ambedkar. I believe in the ethos of Marx, Bhagat Singh,
Ambedkar, Nehru, Gandhi and all these people Were there a lot of Left sanghis within the
ABVP? No, no no one. Only you? PN: We were like we believed we want to change
the status quo. What is left? It wants to change the status quo, it wants
to change the hierarchy, this caste based system, feudal system; this makes you left. When you want to change society set up, you
become a left. I want to change that, it is as simple as
that. Who do not want to change that, they are sanghi And would you say that the RSS/ ABVP in campus
is socialist? Socialist? No,no
There is no welfare, seva and all of these kinds of things? They just believe in one thing that is hatred. This is my last word to you, they don’t believe
in anything else.

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