With new political trajectory, Kanhaiya Kumar leaves JNU comrades in a quandary

Kanhaiya Kumar is flying high, quite literally.

Organisers for the events at which “he is invited to speak” pay for his air travel. “Nothing wrong in travelling by air,” he said when accused of indulging in extravagance. There's nothing wrong with it at all, but what about touching the feet of someone during whose rule, comrade Chandrashekar, ex-president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) was shot dead?

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar. AFP

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar. AFP

For those not in the know, Chandrashekhar, still recalled by students fondly as Chandu, was a highly admired student leader. An active member of the All India Students Federation (AISF), who later became the driving force behind the All India Students' Association (AISA), he was president of JNUSU for two successive terms — 1993 and 1994.

He was in Bihar in March 1997, raising his voice against criminalisation of politics under Lalu Prasad Yadav, when he was shot dead by sharpshooters allegedly close to RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin. And to date, no Left discourse on campus is complete without glowing tributes to Chandu.

Not even as long back as a year ago, Kanhaiya and his comrades were busy singing paeans to him.

How things have changed! Or rather how Kanhaiya has changed!

Besides being close to Shahabuddin, Lalu also symbolises corruption in Bihar. In his speech in Patna during the recent visit, Kanhaiya spoke eloquently on the topic of azadi among other things. Conspicuously absent though was any word on azadi from corruption. Perhaps it would have displeased the man whose feet Kanhaiya touched. Of course, he didn’t talk about Shahabuddin. Watch this documentary Ek Minute Ka Maun. It will show you how thousands of JNU students gathered at Lalu’s residence in Delhi demanding justice, but all they got were bullets and lathis.

Kanhaiya has shifted to a new trajectory after the 9 February incident at JNU. Students slapped with suspension and fine are on hunger strike. One of them named Saurabh Sharma was on Monday admitted to Safdarjung Hospital due to dehydration. Teachers are also on hunger strike in support of students. In the midst of this, Kanhaiya’s opportunistic political ambitions are creating a flutter among his comrades.

Sucheta De of AISA wrote on her Facebook page:

In response to De’s post, Kamla Chenoy wrote:

“Sucheta, I regret that you have brought the debate to this level. When Chandu (Chandrasekhar Prasad) was killed, we mourned him for weeks and still celebrate his dedication to Marxist causes and his great sacrifice. We also ensured that the CBI took up his case as ordered by Com. Indrajit Gupta, then Home Minister. Wasn't Com. Vinod Mishra an exceptional comrade widely respected across the Left and progressive spectrum? Though CPI (ML) was a relatively small party, Com Vinod Mishra was a giant. These are early days for Kanhaiya. But his rise is an indication of the rise of youth, who are fed up with the bourgeois political parties and their grim future, with few jobs available. Shehla has also made an impact. She is also a rising star, and we all wish her well, as we do Ashutosh, Naga, Umar, Anirban and others. As for your dire predictions, do remember that only Kanhaiya has a sedition case against him. I humbly request that we do not magnify such issues. We yet have a lot to do”.

Shehla Rashid, vice-president, JNUSU, who led the movement when Kanhaiya was in jail, replied with a lengthy response of her own:

A screen grab from Sucheta De's Facebook page

A screen grab from Sucheta De's Facebook page

While these student leaders display maturity on not attacking Kanhaiya for his controversial moves, the fact remains that there is growing discontent among students.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 11:22 AM

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