ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A

Where is this Self-Proclaimed Nationalism Coming From?

Kanhaiya Kumar's Speech in JNU

Kanhaiya Kumar is the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU). He was arrested on 13 February 2016 on charges of sedition and was granted a six-month interim bail on 2 March by the Delhi High Court. 

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar gave a speech in JNU after he was released from judicial custody on being granted a six month interim bail by the Delhi High Court. We reproduce an English translation of sections of his Hindi speech. 

We would like to thank TheWire.in for providing us access to the English translation of Kanhaiya Kumar's speech. 

From this platform on behalf of all of you, as JUNUSU president I take this opportunity of the media’s presence to thank and salute the people of this country. I want to thank all the people across the world, academicians and students, who have stood with JNU. I salute them (lal salaam).

I have no rancour against anyone – none whatsoever against the ABVP [Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, student wing of the BJP]. You know why? (crowd roars – why?) Because the ABVP on our campus is actually more rational than the ABVP outside the campus. I have one suggestion for all those people who consider themselves political pundits – kindly watch the recording of the last presidential debate to see the state the ABVP candidate was reduced to. When we decimated the sharpest ABVP intellect there is in the country, which happens to be in the ABVP of JNU, you can draw your own conclusions about what awaits you in the rest of the country. There is no ill-will against ABVP because we are truly  democratic; we truly believe in the constitution, and that is why we look at the ABVP not as enemies but as the opposition. Rest assured, my friend, I will not indulge in any witch-hunt against you for the simple reason that one has to be worthy enough to be hunted….

Modi’s and RSS’s agenda

Today, when our honourable  PM (I have to be respectful, no, or they will doctor this too!) spoke about Stalin and Khrushchev, I had an irresistible urge to enter the television, tug at his suit and say, Modi ji, why not talk a little about Hitler too? If not Hitler, then Mussolini at least – whose black cap was worn by your Guruji? Golwalkar ji had gone to meet him and had been advised to fashion the definition of Indianness on the German  model….

Now I come to something very personal. I spoke to my mother after three months. When I was in JNU I never kept in regular touch.  After going to prison I felt one should keep in regular touch; I advise you to do the same. When I spoke to my mother I asked her: So you took a dig at Modiji? She replied that it was not a ‘dig’ at him. ‘To make fun of people is their prerogative. We just express our pain – those who understand, cry, and those who don’t, laugh.’ My mother said, ‘It was my pain which made me say Modiji is also a son to a mother, my son has been falsely accused in a sedition case. So when he talks about ‘mann ki baat’, why not also talk about ‘maa ki baat’ (mother’s plight)?

What words of comfort could I offer her? Whatever is happening in this country shows a dangerous pathology. Here I am not talking  about  one party or one media channel, or only about soldiers – I am visualising the entire country. What will be the face of this country when it is emptied of its people? That is why it is important to salute all those people who have stood up in support of JNU. They understand the importance of JNU – 60% of its students are women. Moreover, despite any shortcomings it may have, JNU is one of the few institutions which implements the reservation policy; where it doesn’t we fight to ensure it does so.

Also the people who come here – I have not told you until now, my family lives on 3000 rupees. Would I be able to pursue a PhD in any big university? So when a serious offensive is mounted against JNU, the people who are standing up for it are also being tarred with the same brush (in saying this I am not expressing sympathies for any particular political party, for I have my own ideological path). Sitaram Yechury has been charged with sedition, Rahul Gandhi, D. Raja and Kejriwal too. Even those from the media who are speaking up for JNU – actually they are not speaking up for JNU, they are stating the truth as truth and falsehood as falsehood – are being hounded and threatened.

Where is this self-proclaimed nationalism coming from? I was asked by some in prison whether I really shouted those slogans. I said, yes, and I will do so again.

My question is, Are you [those in power] able to see the difference or has your rationality been destroyed…. Is it a good thing to lose one’s rationality so soon because 69% of the people of this country voted against this kind of mindset? Only 31% voted for you and among them were some who were taken in by your slogans. Some of the people you lured with your har har slogan can only think of the price of arhar [dal] these days.

So don’t delude yourself that your victory is forever…. If you repeat a hundred times that the sun is the moon, will the sun become the moon? Certainly not. It will remain what is – the sun – even if you repeat your lie a 1000 times.

The beauty of it is that in parliament they table a ‘call attention motion’, but outside the Lok Sabha across the country they revert to the ‘distract attention motion’ – draw people away from their genuine problems and entrap them in ever new agendas. Here the Occupy UGC movement was going apace and comrade Rohith was killed. As soon as we raised our voice for him came the new salvo – ‘witness the biggest betrayal of the nation, look carefully at the epicentre of sedition’. This agenda too will lose steam.

 

(For the entire text of Kanhaiya Kumar's speech in JNU please go to the TheWire.in here.)

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top