New Delhi: University student union leaders in the forefront of a standoff with the BJP government at the Centre on Friday stressed on a "united struggle" with JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, dubbing the issue as one between "Sanghistan and Hindustan".
The plea for a united front, "keeping differences alive" and the need to break out of "seminars" found resonance in the voices of Kanhaiya of AISF, JNU student leaders Shehla Rashid Shora of AISA, Umar Khalid, a former DSU leader, Allahabad University union president Richa Singh at an event in New Delhi.
A close friend of Rohith Vemula, Hyderabad University student D Prashanth of Ambedkar Students' Association was also present at the event "Pratirodh 2" that saw pro-Left student leaders ranging from moderate to radical camps sharing a common platform.
Richa set the tone by pointing to the need to come together, despite "ideological differences", saying that the theme of resistance should be common across all universities.
Addressing the leftist intellectuals in the gathering, Kanhaiya said that he has a "complaint" against the older generation for having "widened the differences" to an extent that "we are having a tough time" trying to bring unity.
"If you would have done this, then uniting Gandhi and Ambedkar would not have been so tough for us. Why don't we stand together with both against RSS violence? We will have to take our fight out of seminar halls to our villages. We will have to reject binaries," he said.
Condemning the violence in NIT Srinagar, Kanhaiya said a "war" unleashed inside campuses is against democracy and alleged that the campuses are being turned into "battlefields".
"I condemn the violence in Srinagar and the violence in HCU because this is institutional violence and it is dangerous for democracy," he said.
Shehla noted that the political groupings normally stress on the need for coming together while "keeping our differences aside". "Let's say keeping our differences alive, let's get together to defeat them. We celebrate this political diversity."
On the theme of unity, Umar said intellectuals should ponder whether universities are turning into "islands". In order to resist and "isolate RSS", the support of a cross section of people is needed, he said.
Prashanth, who was expelled along with Rohith, said that Hyderabad Central University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao has turned the institution into a "jail". "We were sent to jail recently and even jail atmosphere was better than University of Hyderabad," he claimed.
Kanhaiya used the occasion to respond to charges that he was overstaying in JNU as a student and was wasting tax-payers' money.
"The tragedy of this country is that many people are unaware that doing Ph.D itself takes 28 years... Your money is being spent wisely. It's wrong in the case where a person remains perpetually on flight mode wearing a Rs 4 lakh suite. The fact that I am pursuing my Ph.D in JNU despite having a poor financial background itself proves that your subsidy money is being spent wisely," he said.