New Delhi: Makarand Paranjape, poet and professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University, on Monday took on students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing sedition charge, asking him whether he checked his facts before delivering the much celebrated speech.
"Kanhaiya said in his celebrated speech Golwalkar met Mussolini. Did you check your facts? it was Moonje who met Mussolini.
"I am not saying they were not impressed by the fascist, they were. They thought it is a very good idea to have an authoritarian system.
"Please let us agree on what is factual and what is not.
"Fascism stands for anti-democratic position and so does Stalinism," Paranjape said, while addressing the students at JNU.
"I am proud to belong to a country where one so called judicial murder created such a huge ruckus.
"Do you know how many judicial murders were committed from 1920 to 1950s in Stalin’s USSR?
"Seven hundred and seventy nine ninety nine thousand five hundred and fifty three. Almost a million and how many people were executed for criminal and civil charges? Only 34000," he added.
Paranjape was speaking at the Speak-in at the administration block, the 15th of the edition.
What, however, stand out was that his speech was interrupted first by sloganeering by Kanhaiya Kumar and was also booed by some students in the audience, unlike other speakers who took a pro-Left position on the issue of Nationalism debate and Paranjape was also made to face questions from audience, again led by Kumar.
Speaking amidst a gathering which was either neutral or pro-Left, Paranjape still took on Kumar’s citing "misrepresentation" during his speech after his release from jail post the interim-bail.
Speaking on the topic "Uncivil wars: Tagore, Gandhi, JNU and What’s left of the Nation?" Paranjape said: "When we (JNU) consider ourselves to be a democratic space we should also ask ourselves if this is entirely true.
"Isn’t it possible that this is a Left hegemonic space, where if you disagree you are silenced, you are boycotted, you are brow beaten, or ... (at this point he was shouted before Shehla Rashid, JNUSU VP had to stand up to ask the students to maintain order) but I love JNU too.
"We don’t beat the people we disagree with," he said.
Attacking the Left politics, the professor asked the audience as to why it is so difficult to accept the legitimacy of the Indian state.
Stating that the present discourse in JNU in particular and in the country in general has destroyed the middle ground, he said that only the extreme are left.
He said by 'Left of the Nation' in his topic he want to bring out what left ideology in India has been with respect to nationalism.
"My friend Kanhaiya said ours is the oldest organization and we have fought a lot for independence.
"I want to ask him what about the flip flop that happened by the communist party of India when they suddenly declared that the imperialist war was a people’s war.
"The Community party of India wrote to the British that they will not agitate when you are fighting, we will cooperate with you.
"When he said we fought for Independence of India, I want to know what the evidences.
"We have too many statements from everywhere here, can you show me a statement from North Korea, or even from China. China even today and it is ruled by the communist party of India though it is a capitalist state.
"I have made many Chinese intellectuals in a café, over a drink they will tell you how bad certain things are. But ask them to take out a morcha they can’t.
"So who is democratic and who is not we have to deeply deeply ask ourselves," he said.