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Banaras Hindu University's RSS Seminar Triggers Fight Between Faculty and VC

RSS volunteers (Representative image)

RSS volunteers (Representative image)

The man behind the event, Professor KK Mishra, head of the department of political sciences in BHU, said he will go ahead with the seminar.

New Delhi: Banaras Hindu University is holding an “international seminar” on the role of ‘RSS in Nation Building’ but the central university’s vice-chancellor – who calls himself “a man of RSS” – says he will take action against the Faculty of Social Sciences for including his name as ‘chief patron’ without seeking his permission.

The seminar titled ‘Role of RSS in Nation Building: Illusion and Reality’ will be held in BHU on November 4-5 with sub-themes like Origin and Development of RSS, Nationalism, Education, Tribal and Non-Tribal, Culture, Sanskar, Language, National Security, Concept of Akhand Bharat, and Kashmir & Tibet.

Vice-Chancellor GC Tripathi told News18 that although he sees nothing wrong in a central university holding a seminar on RSS, he wondered if the organisers were qualified enough to hold an “international seminar”.

“There is no question of distancing or associating myself with it when I don’t even know about it. There is nothing wrong with the topic but I am not aware of this seminar. I will take action against the person behind it for mentioning my name without taking my permission,” he told News18.

The man behind the event, Professor KK Mishra, head of the department of political sciences in BHU, said he will go ahead with the seminar.

“I will continue with the seminar and extend an invitation to our VC. He has not communicated his displeasure to me directly,” Mishra told News18.

“Preparations are done, his mention is ceremonial and we followed all processes to hold it. There is nothing illegal about the seminar, we had planned 7 national and international seminars, we are done with six and this one is the last to happen,” he said.

Tripathi called Mishra a “hooligan”, whom he has not met yet and said that he “keeps holding seminars.”

Mishra told News18 that the idea of the seminar was to remove prevailing “illusions” about RSS.

“As far as the role of RSS in nation building is concerned people know more about the illusions than the reality. There are various kinds of views about RSS – like it did nothing for national struggle, it is not secular and are rioters… Students come to me and say they want to research on RSS, they ask me what is RSS? But they don’t have enough material. What should we do? This seminar is purely academic and is focused on coming out of the illusions about RSS and to carve a methodology for researching on RSS,” he said.

BHU has been in the news ever since Tripathi took charge with critics alleging he was implementing an RSS agenda in the century-old institution. His occasional comments eulogizing the RSS had earned him the wrath of the liberal left, which peaked when he refused to renew the teaching contract of Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey.

News18 spoke to Pandey who said the problem was not the seminar, but the fact that the university authorities are not allowing any other discourse.

“It is alarming how almost every day they are allowing something or the other related to RSS. The kind of people coming and giving talks, there are meetings and shakhas happening. They don’t want any other ideology to be discussed on campus. Attempt is to expose student to only one kind of ideology. There is no freedom for democratic rights, daily wage workers have been on dharna for 114 days,” he said.

JNU faculty member Rajat Datta felt it was the prerogative of BHU faculty to conduct seminars on topics they feel like taking up. “A seminar on RSS in BHU is understandable and also inevitable given the current political circumstances in the country. RSS has strong location in BHU. It was bound to happen since university has people supporting a particular ideology and would like to bring that in the national mainstream,” he said.

However, Datta also felt that the seminar is an attempt at legitimizing an ideology that was on the margins.

“It has a very clear political agenda. Also, they are entitled to hold seminar on RSS and also term it academic is their prerogative but RSS is not an academic body. They should not resist any other ideological discussion on campus though,” he said.

first published:October 26, 2016, 20:14 IST