Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram (LSR) college cancelled an invitation to BJP national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan following opposition from a section of the students. The SC-ST cell of LSR had released a poster announcing a session on the topic “Ambedkar Beyond Constitution” with Paswan to commemorate the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar.
The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) unit of the college approached the representatives of the SC-ST cell, demanding that the event be called off. The Left-affiliated SFI alleged that the BJP is “against the interests of the marginalised communities”.
In a statement, Paswan said he was invited by the SC-ST cell of LSR to speak on “Ambedkar Beyond Constitution” on Thursday. “Can the subaltern speak? Not at one of the premier institutions of country, Lady Sriram College, University of Delhi…. I prepared my presentation on the contributions of Babasaheb Ambedkar beyond the drafting of Constitution, his role as en economist, diplomat and an educationist.
“I was informed…that the event has been cancelled at the behest of my political affiliation and my role as National Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said in the statement posted on Facebook and Twitter. Noting that debate and discussion is the essence of democracy, the BJP leader said at a time when the country is celebrating 75 years of its independence, “one thing that we ought to learn from the makers of our Constitution is their ability to listen, absorb and respect other viewpoints”.
“On what account was my voice stifled?” he asked. “My ideas or my identity, regardless of that this is a great to the legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar. An institution can’t be an Eco chamber. As a teaching faculty this saddens me even more when students close their horizon (sic)!” Paswan said.
The SFI welcomed the decision of the SC-ST cell to cancel the invitation to Paswan. “We view the decision to call off the event by SC-ST cell in a positive light. However, we expect student bodies to remember where their commitment lies in the future as well,” it said.