BJP MP from New Delhi, Meenakshi Lekhi, spoke in favour of JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar’s calls for a decommissioned battle tank to be installed in the college campus. Having raised the issue during Zero Hour on Thursday, Lekhi tells Indian Express that without the army protecting the country’s borders, campuses like JNU would not have the peace to thrive.
Why did you support the JNU V-C’s remarks?
JNU is a centrally funded university and their students form a miniscule part of the student population. Yet there are slogans of breaking the country that are chanted there. They should be reminded that without the tanks protecting the borders, without the sacrifices of our soldiers, they would not have the peace to carry on their activities in the campus. This space in democracy is not available in China or Pakistan.
Will keeping a tank really help instill nationalism?
If a decommissioned tank, which is in disuse or scrap for all practical purposes, can still remind people of the sacrifices for the nation, why not?
But are you sure that children and young people will like seeing battle tanks in campuses?
Children love to peek inside retired tanks and symbols of war. I have seen in Punjab fields and Himachal and other cantonment areas where tanks are parked. There is a huge, genuine interest among kids and people around them. Even someone like me would love to see the inside of a tank.
But the criticism has been that maybe a university is not an ideal place to install a tank. Your comments?
Why not? They remind us the message that you should be grateful for the sacrifices of the soldiers otherwise the armies would come marching from Lahore to Delhi.
Do you support replicating this idea in other institutes?
You see in Parliament we come from different political parties but on the question of nationalism and national pride, we are always united. But we see outside Parliament there are kids who speak in language like “Bharat tere tukde honge.” They cannot be allowed, that mindset needs to change. And they must learn to look at the tank and remember that there are people who have sacrificed their lives so that these universities can run. I spoke a line in Parliament like “…Iss desh ko mere bachchho rakhna sambhal ke (Children keep the country safe)”. There’s so much difficulty… our soldiers are dying on a daily basis, people are trying to work against our national integrity, you are supposed to protect those symbols, stand by them and not demotivate them by talking nonsense.