The AAP Friday not only came out in full force to support Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, but also took a page out of his ‘azadi’ speech to step up its attack on the Centre.
With a new hashtag on social media — #FreedomInIndia — the AAP widened the scope of the debate and demanded freedom from ‘corruption’, ‘oppression’, ‘divisive politics’, ‘communal violence’, ‘poverty’, ‘casteism’ and ‘inequality’.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had expressed his appreciation for Kumar’s speech in JNU Thursday night, came up with his own version of the ‘azadi’ slogan Friday. He demanded freedom from the alleged interference by the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre in the functioning of the Delhi government.
“Hum kya maangte – azaadi, LG ke hastakshep se azaadi, kendra ke hastakshep se azaadi, janta ko nirnay lene ki azaadi, rajnaitik ahankaar se azaadi. (What do we want — freedom, freedom from LG’s interference, freedom from Centre’s interference, people’s freedom to take decisions, freedom from political high-handedness),” Kejriwal tweeted.
He added, “Heard Kanhaiya’s speech many times. Amazing clarity of thought expressed wonderfully. He said wat most people have been feeling. God bless him.”(sic)
Kejriwal also had some advice for Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “Maine kayi baar bola tha — Modiji students se pange mat lo. Modiji nahi maane” (I had warned several times — Modiji do not mess with students. Modiji did not listen).
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also expressed his support for Kumar, tweeting, “Kanhaiya aur JNU ne desh mein farzi rashtravadiyon ki khatarnaak vichardhaara ke khilaaf nirnayak jung ki ummeed jaga di hai (Kanhaiya and JNU have sparked off a decisive battle against the dangerous thought-process of fake nationalists in the country).
Targeting the Centre over a range of issues, from the Dadri lynching to the Ghulam Ali row, senior AAP leader and spokesperson Sanjay Singh said, “Freedom of expression is being stifled in the country…In Dadri, Akhlaq was attacked… Kerala House was attacked… Will the BJP roll out menus for others, will they decide what one should eat? Ghulam Ali’s performance was disrupted. Will the government decide who will perform and what we will listen to? There is clearly an attack on the country’s freedom and that is what we are standing up to.”
Kumar was fighting for the rights of Dalits and students, said Singh, adding, “While we have stated that those who raised anti-India slogans in JNU should be booked, we have been backing those wrongly targeted…”