New Delhi: A BJP parliamentarian Udit Raj had attended the Mahishasura festival at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), that Union minister Smriti Irani held up on Wednesday and Thursday said was an example of questionable activities by students on the campus.
Udit Raj confirmed attending the event which took place in October 2013. He said. “I attended the Mahishasura festival because I believe that caste discrimination is bad. I consider Mahishasur as a martyr. Dr BR Ambedkar had also considered him as a martyr,” I was not a part of the BJP at that time. I follow the ideology of Dr BR Ambedkar, who considered Mahishasur as a Messiah of Dalits, how can I go against him.”
MP Raj who headed many Dalit-tribal welfare bodies said.”I attended the Mahishasura festival because I believe that caste discrimination is bad. But I also attend other seminars at JNU. I am an alumnus of JNU.” He said. “I was an activist that time, I changed. Only fools and dead men don’t change their views.”
The Mahishasura festival which held to pay a tribute to the ‘demon’ king who was slained by Goddess Durga takes place in the JNU campus in the month of October since 2011 started after Dalit writer Prem Kumar Mani wrote an article which had references considered objectionable by some sections of the society.
HRD Minister Smriti Irani has told in the Parliament that the festival has been hurting the sentiments of Durga worshippers. She termed Durga Puja a “racial festival, where a fair-skinned, beautiful Goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasura”.
The writer Anil Chamadia and activist Gurinder Azad have also attended the event.
Anil Chamadia said the festival was not against any religion but only questioned the Brahminical social order. He said many backward communities worship mythological characters portrayed as demons, including Ravan.
“It (the form of the festival at JNU) has always been (that of) an academic discourse. I attended it once. The students bring a picture of Mahishasura, and Dalit and Bahujan experts debate the cultural order in which Dalits and backwards were treated as demons,” Chamadia said.
Azad said the city of Mysore was named after Mahishasura, who ruled that region. The festival was conceptualised after Dalit writer Prem Kumar Mani wrote an article that had references that were deemed objectionable by some sections.