Academician-activist Sujatha Surepally joins BSP, to fight TRS candidate Balka Suman

According to Sujatha, the decision to join politics was to fight for equal representation of women and Dalits.
Academician-activist Sujatha Surepally joins BSP, to fight TRS candidate Balka Suman
Academician-activist Sujatha Surepally joins BSP, to fight TRS candidate Balka Suman

While continuing to teach Sociology at the Satavahana University in Karimnagar, Sujatha Surepally, a well-known Dalit academician and activist, has now taken on the role of a politician. Sujatha recently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and will be fighting against TRS candidate Balka Suman, from the Chennur constituency – an SC reserved constituency.

Before taking a plunge into politics, as an activist Sujatha has been a part of several movements, including the Telangana statehood movement. She was a founder member of the Telangana Joint Action Committee – a forum comprising organisations fighting for separate statehood which was key in realising the state.

While she was considering joining the Congress or the Telangana Jana Samithi party, she backed out, as both the parties were dominated by Reddys without a significant presence of the oppressed castes, according to her. Both Congress and TJS are headed by Reddys – Uttam Kumar Reddy and Kodandaram Reddy.

Speaking about her political entry and fight against Suman, she says, “We both are like teacher and student. I still call him ‘brother’. But I am going to defeat him,” adding, “He may have money and muscle power, but the people are with me.”

According to Sujatha, the decision to contest from Chennur was taken because the region continues to remain backward even after bifurcation, with scores of Dalits living in poor conditions.

Sujatha, who belongs to the Baindla community, a sub-caste in Madiga community, laments that Telangana didn’t become what she had imagined. “Telangana was achieved after several social struggles, I believed that the state would be caste conscious, but that didn’t happen. Women and Dalits are just used as token representatives under the TRS rule,” she says.

Sujatha says that besides police harassment, the decision to join politics was because she realises that caste struggles need political backing. She has three cases against her for her activism. The academician-activist admits that she earlier believed elections were a futile exercise, but now believes that only through elections and democracy, women’s rights are possible.

“I have decided to join politics also to inspire women. There is so much patriarchy across all the political parties. Unless, you have a political lineage like Renuka Chowdary, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, there is no way for women to join politics. For Dalit women who want to represent the community, coming into politics is a pipe dream. A few politicians are there, but they either don’t identify themselves as Dalits, and others are still led by men.”

Sujatha also slams all the parties for their view of empowering women. “The manifestos of all the political parties are almost the same. They offer some beneficiary schemes like loans with small interest etc. but nobody wants to promise a policy so that they can empower themselves.”

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