A few kilometers south of the city centre of Kashi, where the final act of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election is unfolding, is the illustrious Banaras Hindu University. Its vice chancellor GC Tripathi is at the centre of yet another controversy – after a senior television anchor claimed he participated in PM Narendra Modi's campaign roadshow on March 4.
Tripathi, since his appointment in November 2014, has always been at the receiving end of allegations that he is an RSS pracharak out to “saffronise” the university. Here in an interview to News18's Suhas Munshi, the vice chancellor GC Tripathi dismisses many of these charges.
Were you present in PM Narendra Modi's rally on March 4?
I was watching the whole proceedings on television from my office that day. Claims about I being present at the rally were malicious attempts to defame me and the university. I am ready for any punishment if these allegations are proven true.
One malicious journalist started the whole thing by spreading lies on Twitter. If he comes to the campus again he will be thrashed properly. Wo vidhivat peete jaayenge. Bilkul peete jaayenge (They will systematically beaten-up). I will not allow anyone to spread lies about me or the institution.
The most common allegation against you is that you are an RSS man.
Main hun RSS ka (Yes, I belong to the RSS). I am associated with the RSS and I’m proud of it. Why is it anyone else’s business? And if having association with RSS is reason enough to be disqualified from holding senior positions, then our Prime Minister is also an RSS man. Bhaga dein unhe bhi (Should we throw him out?).
RSS people also serve as governors. Agar RSS ka member hona hi aadhaar hai to badi mushkil hogi (If being the member of the RSS is the only criteria, it will be very difficult). If I can be a professor with RSS membership, I can also be the VC of this university.
But there are allegations that you're trying to 'saffronise' the university.
Tell me one move that I’ve taken to saffronise the university. Give me one instance.
Are RSS shakhas (Branch) held in the university or not?
Shakhas have been running much before I became the vice chancellor. Did I start them? Sangh offices have been operational here since the beginning of this university. They were destroyed during Emergency. Mujhe to banwaana chahiye tha. Aur main banwa bhi dun to koi virodh nahi karega (I should have started the Shakhas here. And I know, nobody would have disapproved of this idea).
Remember that Param Pujniya Guru ji (MS Golwalkar, the second chief of RSS) has studied from this university. He was a teacher here.
And what is 'saffron'? It is a symbol of sun. If you block it, will the earth survive? Saffron is energy, warmth, light, knowledge. Without them we'll be dormant. If saffronisation stands for knowledge, sacrifice, energy, light - then of course BHU should be saffronised.
Do you attend shakhas?
I used to go, but not now because I’m overwhelmed with work. I don’t get time otherwise I will go. But I will go again. I have not hesitation in going to a shakha today also.
A lot of students claim that you don’t allow political voices or dissent on the campus. What do you have to say about that?
I think universities are being politicised by some political parties with vested interests. Look what happened with Hyderabad Central University. The issue was deliberately propped up. Was it an actual issue? Who did what I don’t know, but it was made into a political issue. You tell me what was found about this case after all these months?
That Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit?
It is not about whether he was a Dalit or not. Did anyone force him to commit suicide? No. This the state of university campuses across the country now. Look at JNU and now DU.
The thing is, we should definitely talk about issues and listen to each other. But students should study politics and only mature people should do politics.
If you promote dialogue and discussions, will you allow a programme on the lines of what was hosted in Delhi University's Ramjas college in your university? Will you allow Umar Khalid to speak on Bastar or allow a discussion on separatist movement in Kashmir?
We will discuss Kashmir among ourselves, no outsider will be allowed to discuss it in our university. As far as the question of Umar Khalid is concerned, his record is such that campus will become volatile.
He has never expressed regret for what he said in JNU on that day. First let him tell us exactly what he'll speak, then we'll take a call. I'm not against rationality or thought.
Aahar nidra bhay maithun cha
Samaanam etat pashubhir naraanaam
Dharmo hi tesham adhiko vishesho
Dharmena hinah pashubhih samaanah
(Food, sleep, fear and mating, these acts of
Humans are similar to animals’
Of them [humans], dharma is
The only special thing, without dharma humans are also animals.)
Which book is this quote from?
It is a quote from a Smriti that many people are hell bent on destroying.