Smriti Irani or Rajnath Singh would not have imagined that they were giving life to a bigger opponent to PM Narendra Modi, when they rushed in to the campus of JNU on February 12 to arrest JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, whom they must have thought was another ‘bachcha’. Perhaps the way King Bali miscalculated the might of Vaman (One of Vishnu’s Avatars) in our epics, the BJP-led government toyed with the idea of "teaching a lesson" to JNU students and now the whole astonished nation is watching the faux pax.
With the Delhi High Court imposing strict bail rules not to indulge in any "anti-national" activities, Kanhaiya Kumar, who was released from the jail and reached the JNU campus to be welcomed by students, remained well within his wits to explain things for his cheering student communicty on the campus. Beginning his speech with a typical JNU slogan –"Awaz Do, Hum Ek Hain" (Shout Loudly, We Are One), which is hopefully not an anti-national slogan, he took cudgels directly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a speech beset with sparks and intellectual parallels, Kanhaiya Kumar criticised Narendra Modi, whose morning speech in parliament was filled with quotes from Lenin and other leftist ideologues. "Modiji was talking about Stalin and Khrushchev in Parliament. When I heard him speaking I felt like urging him to say, ‘Modiji, please speak about Hitler a little’. Forget about Hitler, talk about Mussolini whose black cap you wear and to whom RSS founder MS Golwalkar went to meet," he said drawing parallels to events in history.
Kanhaiya Kumar also sought to clarify the entire JNU row since the Feb 9 incident, saying, “We never demanded azadi (freedom) from India. We want azadi within India…from starvation, feudalism, Brahmanism, casteism, rioters and looters of the country.” Clearly, the new icon on Indian political scene is referring to the "anti-national" sloganeering charge slapped against JNU students based on a morphed video.
In a 45-minute blistering speech, the JNUSU leader who has become famous as an icon of political victim in the country, has targeted the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and took on maladies of the country which are looming larger than the nationalism debate that has been coined by BJP of late.
Pointing out Smriti Irani’s statement in parliament calling Dalit student Rohith Vemula as "bachcha" and portraying the entire episode as polical manipulation over the dead body, he said, “Madam Smriti Irani, you will not teach us deshbhakti (patriotism) and deshdroh (anti-national). Let the court decide and define it. And yes, we are not your children. We are your political opponents."
Recollecting his days inside the Tihar jail, Kanhaiya Kumar said: "I realised inside the jail that we, JNU people speak in civilised voices, but we use heavy terminologies. Perhaps, it doesn’t reach the common man. We have to connect with the common people (using simple language)."
On soldiers in the border, he said: “They say soldiers are dying on the borders. I salute them but also ask the BJP MP in Parliament who said it — whether his son or brother is fighting. Who is responsible for their deaths? The soldier fighting on the border, perhaps wanted to study but he couldn’t get to JNU. Do not create a false debate in this country. Do not try to divide the country based on the constable, the farmer, the soldier, poor people like me by creating distortions. Have you ever thought of their families, the families of farmers who are forced to commit suicide?”
At the end he assured the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) of BJP, which was instrumental in videos and the entire JNU row that there will be no witch-hunting. “I have no ill-feelings towards anyone and we will never indulge in witch-hunting the ABVP. We consider you our opposition,” he said.
BJP, which was instrumental in pushing AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal two years ago to prominence is now calculating the risk in new political leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who won sympathy of the nation being a son of poor Anganwadi worker in Bihar, who was charged with serious "sedition" charges by Delhi Police.