For the Left, which had all but disappeared from public memory after being rendered insignificant in mainstream politics, the JNU controversy offers a chance to get back into reckoning. As was evident at the rally at Jantar Mantar yesterday, it won’t allow it to go waste.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury hinted at a bigger social alignment when he raised the slogans “Lal Salam, Inquilab Zindabad and Jai Bhim.” He also made it clear that the Left wanted to reach out to all those opposing the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. It also wants to make the students’ agitation bigger.
The Left parties and the student unions affiliated to them are planning to mobilise support for the JNU students’ agitation and on the Rohith Vemula suicide issue across the country.
“Along with political independence, there’s a need for economic independence as well. We need azaadi (freedom), but from hunger, poverty, capitalistic exploitation and the RSS agenda. We’ll fight against all these and we’re with the students who have raised red flag against institutional suppression of dissent. This government by using the term ‘nationalism’ wants to whip up nationalistic jingoism. It’s dangerous. It has been trying to convert our secular democratic republic into a Hindu fascist nation by imposing the RSS agenda in our educational institutions. We’re mobilizing against all these issues and our student union SFI will connect with the masses and students in universities,” Yechury told Firstpost.
“Rohith Vemula’s suicide is nothing but institutional killing. The HRD ministry wants to convert universities into RSS shakhas and the government has been attempting to suppress students’ voice by using lathis and police. They won’t be successful. We’re with the students and will fight it out,” added CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat.
The Left has given a nationwide call for a campaign from 23 to 25 February to combat the “attack on intellectual freedom and democratic rights” by organising rallies, human chain, discussion and discourse, and demonstrations.
Beginning with it, the Madhya Pradesh unit of CPM on Tuesday organised a rally and human chain in Bhopal along with CPI, Left-affiliated organisations and non-Left progressive groups, with a resolution to fight ‘Talibanisation of academic institutions and attack on democratic rights’.
“The BJP-led government and the RSS want Talibanisation of our education system so students stop asking questions, lose their scientific temperament and freedom to express their views. They want finish off India’s 3500 year old culture of wisdom that was developed through discourse and respecting democratic views. If you challenge the Modi-government, they will brand you a Leftist. Had there been so many leftists in our country as the government claims today, the Left would have formed government at the centre with majority,” said CPI (M) central committee member Badal Saroj.
“Are all those Dalit students who gathered at Jantar Mantar leftists? Modi-government wants to tow the line of fascists. The student agitation across the country including the one at JNU is not about Rohith Vemula, Dalits or Kanhaiya Kumar; it’s a well-organised attack on intellectualism, institutions and democratic rights. The Left has initiated a nationwide campaign to combat it and Bhopal was a part of it today,” added Saroj, also MP state secretary, CPM.
“The present situation whether in JNU, Hyderabad Central University or elsewhere has emerged due to highhandedness and dictatorial attitude of BJP-led NDA government and the RSS. They have adopted fascist way of spreading lies to counter the growing dissent amongst students. The Left will mobilise its cadre and fight it firmly,” CPI leader D Raja told Firstpost.
On students’ front, all the Left-affiliated unions – Students’ Federation of India (SFI) of CPM, All India Students’ Federation (AISF) of CPI, All India Students’ Association (AISA) of CPI-ML, etc - have joined hands to mobilise their cadre in colleges and universities in every state and develop it into a mass-based movement through a multi-level strategy.
Viswajeet, national vice president, AISF said, “All Left and progressive students’ organisations have given a nationwide call to mobilise students on campuses. We’ll hold rallies, demonstrations, dharnas and court arrests (Jail Bharo) at district-level in all the states to create a powerful resistance. If needed, we’ll go for Parliament gherao in Delhi.”
Added Sucheta De, national president, AISA, “Our demand is that the conspiracy of BJP-RSS should be exposed and the way students have been branded anti-national and sent to jail. The worldview of the RSS is to marginalise the Muslims, Dalits, farmers, labourers and the poor by branding them as ‘anti-democratic section’. The attack on JNU and the Left student bodies has been due to our ‘Occupy UGC’ movement and it got extended to Rohith Vemula and FTII. We’ve adopted a coordinated movement for changing the regime and democratic transformation, and all the students’ organisations believing in it, will fight it out united.”