IIT alumni are storming into politics to fight for India’s oppressed castes

The Indian general election is a year away, but the country’s already in the grip of multiple state-level polls. Leading political formations are, as usual, busy with their promises and proclamations.

Amidst this, a group of 50 people, many from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), has decided to form its own outfit, the Bahujan Azad Party (BAP), to fight for the scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), and other backward classes (OBC).

The BAP’s members, many belonging to the SC, ST, and OBC communities, have even quit their white-collar jobs. The party has now sought the Election Commission’s nod and will make its debut in the 2020 Bihar elections.

Led by Naveen Kumar, a 2015 graduate of IIT-Delhi, the party embarked this week on a social media campaign, with posters carrying images of iconic social reformer Bhimrao Ambedkar and former president APJ Abdul Kalam, among others.

This isn’t the first time that IIT graduates have given politics a shot. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who founded the Aam Aadmi Party, was a student of IIT Kharagpur. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar and former Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh, too, attended the IITs.

The IITs are among the hardest universities to get into in India, given the rigorous selection process, and there are reservation policies in place for students from the SC, ST, and OBC communities. However, many of those who have made it through

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