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The Kanhaiya Kumar the nation saw after his release from jail — consequent on the grant of interim bail — has been a revelation. In light of his nearly hour-long impassioned speech to fellow students at JNU and subsequent television interviews, the president of the university’s students’ union, who is sought to be tarnished with the charge of “sedition” by those in authority and their followers, emerges as an aspirant to unite various sections of students, as well as the country, around the idea of making the preamble to the Constitution of India a living reality so that the most disadvantaged sections of Indians may feel the glow of freedom.
This is hardly a seditious idea, and if this is “anti-national”, then the makers of our Constitution will all hang together. There is also consistency of argument and a harmony of ideas between what Mr Kumar says now and the speech he made on the campus that was deemed seditious by the JNU unit of RSS’ student wing ABVP with the chant being promptly taken up by the Delhi police, to say nothing of the goon squad in lawyers’ attire who beat up Mr Kumar, other JNU students, JNU teachers, and the media corps in New Delhi’s Patiala House courts.
Mr Kumar’s student organisation, the All-India Students’ Federation, is ideologically linked to the CPI. But this has not stopped democrats of all hues defending him and showing sympathy for many of the things he says. Partly this is on account of the student leader’s charisma and his forthright challenge to authority spearheaded by the Sangh Parivar. But there is more. The case that the young man charged with sedition espouses goes well beyond the familiar trope of left-wing practice in India.
To his frank association with the thoughts of Marx and Lenin, Mr Kumar has seamlessly stitched the ideas associated with Ambedkar and also the vital matter of gender equality in India, which, in his opinion, must also embrace trans-genders. These are significant advances on the theoretical moorings of the Left and have not been attempted before.
There can be little doubt that Mr Kumar has emerged as a national figure, although it is premature to call him a new political star. There is some talk that he will be campaigning in the state elections, as student activists before him have indeed done. We can’t know what the future holds, but we would advise the student leader to do justice to his research, emerge as a specialist in his field, and then take the political plunge. is so inclined, only subsequently.
(Deccan Chronicle 6 March 2016)