JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on Thursday vowed that he would keep up his fight against casteism, and economic inequalities but ruled out him campaigning in the coming Assembly polls.
Kumar, who was denied entry into the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) yesterday when he came to express solidarity with the students fighting on the Rohith Vemula issue, had to face unpleasant moments today when a man threw a shoe at him in a seminar on “Constitutional rights”.
A man sitting in the audience threw a shoe at Kumar but it missed the target and fell just ahead of the stage. The seminar was organised at Sundrayya Vignana Kendram (SVK) at Baghlingampally here, a building run by Left parties.
Police took away the man even as commotion prevailed in there for sometime. The meeting continued after the incident. The HCU, which witnessed violence after Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile took charge two days ago, remained peaceful today.
The HCU non-teaching staff, who had gone on a strike protesting vandalisation of VC’s lodge on March 22 allegedly by a group of students, resumed their duties today. Members of HCU Non-Teaching Staff Union had boycotted duties from Tuesday afternoon in protest against ransacking of Appa Rao’s official residence (VC’s lodge) allegedly by the group of students who were opposing the VC resuming his duty.
Kumar, who resumed his speech after the shoe-throwing incident, alleged that democracy is under attack in the country. “Today, whoever it is, be it Marxists, Ambedkarites, Socialists, Lohiaites or Centrists, today all types of people are under attack. Because, democracy is coming under attack today,” he said.
Stressing that he criticised Narendra Modi only because he is the Prime Minister, Kanhaiya recited a poem which talks about BJP’s promises, including bringing back black money, controlling price rise and providing employment. Alleging that he was highlighted to divert attention from the Rohith Vemula issue, Kanhaiya expressed support to the demand for bringing in a ‘Rohith Act’ to end discrimination in
Claiming that ‘nationalism’ was brought as the development promised by BJP could not materialise, Kanhaiya said nationalism is not about one language, one religion, one caste or one gender. “India is the nation of nations and we should respect all kinds of nationalities in the context of Indian nationalism, precisely where we should stand in the support of nationalism, not in the support of casteist, Brahminical Hindu nationalism. This is our position,” he said.
Speaking about the saffronisation allegations, he said, “You cannot hegemonise ‘Bharat Mata'”. Kanhaiya, who is on a two-day visit to the city and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, told reporters earlier that universities are under attack under the NDA government. “Are we doing politics or is the government is doing politics? The government has a pre-planned script to destroy autonomy of universities… The precise work of universities, intellectuals is to promote critical thinking,” he said.
The struggle in JNU is an extension of the campaign in HCU for justice to Vemula. There is a similarity between HCU and JNU in the context of alleged attack on students’ activism and autonomy of universities, he said. Whether it was coincidence or conspiracy that Appa Rao assumed charge ahead of his visit, he claimed.
Maintaining that students were instigated into violence regarding the attack on VC’s office in HCU, Kanhaiya said he condemned violence in any form. The truth would come out in the incident, he added.
Citing examples of FTII, Aligarh University, HCU and JNU, he claimed the campuses are becoming war zones because some students’ groups are working for government. Replying to a query, he said his organisation has nothing to do with the anti-national slogans raised in JNU in February.
“There is a difference between sedition and (being) anti-national”, he added. He also said he would not campaign in the elections coming up in different states.
The development agenda of NDA government has taken a backseat during the last two years of its rule, Kanhaiya alleged. “There is a difference between ‘desh bhakti’ and ‘Modi bhakti’. Some people are trying to establish ‘Modi bhakti’ as ‘desh bhakti’,” he said.
Charging that there was a conspiracy to pit soldiers against the students, he said soldiers, farmers and students like Rohith Vemula are martyrs and that they cannot be fought against each other. Asked if he compared Vemula with Bhagat Singh as he compared Vemula’s mother with Bhagat Singh’s mother, he said Vemula became a “martyr” because he was a target of ‘manuvad’.
“Crony capitalism should be fought by striving for productive capital that generates employment,” he said. Kanhaiya said the path advocated by great Indian personalities for the “liberation of people” should be followed. Noting that Constitution talks about “true patriotism”, he said the slogan to be raised is ‘Jai Jawan’, ‘Jai Kisan’ and ‘Jai Samvidhan’. “There should be azadi (freedom) from Manuvad and untouchability,” he said.
Meawhile, police said those who threw shoe at Kumar during the seminar have been identified as Naresh Kumar and Pavan Kumar and they belonged to ‘Gomatha Rakshaka Committee’. Last evening, Kumar was not allowed to enter the HCU campus, where he was scheduled to address students agitating over the suicide of the Dalit scholar in January this year.
Kanhaiya, who came with Rohith’s mother and brother to express solidarity with the students, was greeted yesterday with slogans for and against him at the gate after the University issued a notification banning entry of outsiders including political parties, media and other social/student groups besides police keeping a strict security at the main gate preventing non-students from entering.