Sunil Ambekar has mentored the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for many years. In this conversation with News18.com against the backdrop of the recent violence in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the senior RSS leader is critical of the Left but calls for open dialogue to end the impasse.
He also advocates for communication and consensus on the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC). Ambekar says he does not support ‘boycott’ of film stars for their stance on political issues, but adds that Chhapaak actress Deepika Padukone does not represent all Bollywood celebrities.
What we saw in JNU – violence, masked men and women entering the campus – and there were very clear allegations levelled that this was instigated by the ABVP, and those people were from the ABVP
Firstly, we have to go back to the fact that in the long period of Left dominance in JNU and some other university campuses, they have continuously created violence, they have created clashes and derailment of the university administration, and academics.
You can recall that on February 9, 2016, men and women in masks came to JNU on the invitation of the Left and they chanted or said ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’, etc.
The problem this time was students were not following the diktats of the Left and they were keen to take admission for the next semester. On the first day (of registration) more than 1,100 students registered themselves through the regular process. So, out of frustration, they (the Left) blocked it, they beat the students.
On the last day of registration, ABVP karyakartas were standing there to help the students who were there to register. Left students attacked them and the volunteers (ABVP activists) had to run to the Periyar Hostel. They were attacked, and there was huge violence.
But that doesn’t justify the actions of those coming from outside.
Actually nobody knows who those students were. It is to (be) probed by the university administration. So, the victims were the ABVP karyakartas.
But the JNU students’ union president had stitches on her head.
Don’t know. They may have called people from outside like they do every time.
Who are they?
Left people. They call outsiders every time.
Are you talking about those students who entered? The masked people?
I don’t know who were behind the masks.
So are you saying that they have nothing to do with the ABVP?
What I’m saying is I don’t know who were behind the masks. But it is a regular practice of the Left to put on such masks. They were in masks while attacking the server room. They were in masks on February 9, 2016. And they were in masks while beating the students. So they have a tradition like this. I don’t know because I’m not an expert on that.
In an interview last year, you spoke about a group controlling these universities and you wondered why such agitations happen only in social sciences departments and not in technological institutes.
I’m not saying that. In our country there are about a thousand… I think more than 950 universities, and about forty thousand colleges. So, this picture doesn’t represent the student community at all.
So, most of the universities are doing well, students are doing well. If there are issues faced by students, they have agitations, these are reported in all newspapers and there will be discussions and there will be a way out also.
But here, in 35 years the Left has turned Bengal into a backward state. Then see the character of the Left. I will explain it to you. In Kerala, they don’t allow anyone to have a dissenting voice. Even on the CAA issue, the ABVP organised a seminar in a college, and how they (the Left) thrashed the karyakartas can be seen in videos on YouTube. Then at Jadavpur University last year, Vivek Agnihotri, writer and filmmaker, was injured. They stopped Babul Supriyo, manhandled him, and he was not going there for any demonstration. He was there for a seminar. What did the SFI do at Visva Bharati a few days ago?
Do you think there should be open dialogue? You can have differing political views, but things can still be settled through dialogue.
There can always be a dialogue process. And again, I say, yes, Left people should come forward, ABVP is always ready, and the government and administration can call everybody. Yes, there should be dialogue.
Everything can be settled through dialogue. We have done this in so many institutes.
In this particular case, the role of the vice-chancellor has come under scrutiny. Even some old-timers, people who have been associated with the RSS like Dr MM Joshi have questioned whether he should continue in office.
Everybody should advise the Left people and their top leaders that let us be a part of democracy, don’t go a different way. I’m fully ready and whatever I can do I will do. There should be dialogue, and let us resolve the issues. Yes, definitely, because that will help the university, community and nation at large.
Recently, this controversy erupted when Deepika Padukone went to JNU. There was a protest. I’m not talking about a party’s point of view. But if you look across the spectrum, from this side and that as well, there is a call for boycotting an artiste.
I’m not in support of that (boycott) because definitely she has the freedom to go anywhere, say whatever and join whoever. But she is not representing the whole celebrity section of Bollywood. Only she came forward and no one else.
But definitely, all celebrities should think where they stand (on an issue), and if you don’t know the whole (issue), you should not take a stand.
A couple of questions on CAA and NRC. The RSS held talks with people in the aftermath of the Ayodhya verdict and it had its impact on the ground. On CAA and NRC, do you think that probably the sort of communication which should have happened was missing?
I don’t think there was a spontaneous protest in this also. Of course, if some people are out on the roads, then we should have more communication. In the case of CAA, I think there is little opposition. On NRC, people are deliberately creating confusion.
The country has to decide how NRC should be done, and I think similar issues were raised when it came to Aadhaar card or other cards also.
NRC seems to evoke a strong reaction from a section. Assam has been a different case because CAA has a history behind it.
I believe the government will take some time and come out with a proposal. Then people will react on the specific proposal. The government should consider all proposals and suggestions, and based on that we can come to a consensus.
I think, from the government side, they have clarified so many times. I think even the PM has clarified on this. Yes, people will be able to give their suggestions and amendments will be made in the process. We should not see it like the problematic process adopted for NRC in Assam.
Even ABVP demanded that there should be 100 per cent verification, not fifty per cent or twenty per cent. The NRC process adopted in Assam is not ideal. It has a lot of lacunae.
There are some misunderstandings about NRC because of this recent example, the way NRC was conducted in Assam.