Meet Odisha Boy Who Once a MGNREGS Labourer, Now JNU’s Presidential Candidate

Bhubaneswar: Destiny has its own way to surprise you. And you never know where this destiny will take you. Meet, Jitendra Suna (29), who once  a labourer worked under MGNREGS in Odisha’s Kalahandi District and helper in a gas firm for some time, is going to contest polls as president of student union at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, one of the prestigious institutions in the country.

Prior to joining JNU, in 2009, Jitendra Suna (29), worked as a helper with Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) in the capital, fitting gas pipelines, fixing stoves and digging roads in case of pipe bursts, but the fortune for Suna take a U turn after ten years,  as the Dalit PhD student from the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), is contesting for the post of president in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) polls.

Born in Pourkela village, a remote village in the backward Kalahandi district, Suna used to work manual labour works early in his life. While his mother was a vegetable seller, his father worked as an agricultural labourer.

Suna said, “My mother died when I was in class VIII. I started sowing others’ paddy fields, for which I would get around Rs 30-40 per day. I also dug roads and ponds under MGNREGS as labourer, for which I used to get Rs 100-150 per day.”

Suna started attending school and simultaneously continued to work as a labourer. He moved to Delhi to earn money to finish building their house. His brother worked at IGL, so he followed him.

As a he used to earn Rs 3,500 per month which was not enough to sustain him in the city. Hence he decided to go back and complete his graduation. After graduation he moved to Nagpur for a free UPSC Coaching.

“When I reached Nagpur, I realized it was a 10-month course in Ambedkarism and Buddhism. It was there that I developed an understanding of caste and untouchability… and so I decided to study history and write our (Dalit) history,” said Suna.

At the institute, Suna met students from HCU and JNU and decided to take the JNU MA entrance exam. He enrolled at the university in 2013 and went on to do an MA in History and MPhil from the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy.

Suna is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student in the same centre and is writing his Ph.D. on ‘History of Identities & Exclusion; Ambedkar and the Marginalized’.

BAPSA’s presidential candidate Jitendra Suna said that he would fight for marginalised students and would challenge the binary of the Left and Right-wing forces.

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