Two days after the Left Unity panel swept the JNU students’ union elections, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday alleged that there were forces within campus “waging a war against India”, and they were “also seen with elected representatives of the institution’s students’ union”.
Sitharaman, an alumnus of the university, said during an interaction with journalists at he Indian Women’s Press Corps that she felt “sad at many things happening” in the university in the last few years. “The kind of things happening in last few years have not been encouraging at all. It is very different to have a party, whose ideology I may not agree (with), but the way in which they have probably got led by forces which are anti-India — when I say anti-India, definitely it is a stated position they are waging a war against India in their pamphlets and their brochures…,” she said.
“Such people leading the JNUSU or JNUSU members openly participating with such programmes… you don’t need to hesitate to say anti-India led them,” she said. “There are forces which are waging a war against India and it is they who are also seen with elected representatives of the students’ union. That makes me feel uneasy,” she said.
The elections were marred by clashes and violence between members of the ABVP and the Left Unity panel. The JNUSU, in a statement, said it was “deeply dismayed” by Sitharaman’s statements. “As a former student of this university and as a senior minister, such statements calling JNUSU members anti-India and ‘waging a war against India’ are utterly baseless and condemnable,” it said.
“We see this as a continuation of the systematic slander against JNU students and faculty that has resulted in numerous attacks on students and teachers, such as the one on Sanjay Kumar in Motihari, Bihar, or elsewhere,” it said.
“Time and again the imagined category of ‘anti-national’ has been invoked by the ruling dispensation to malign and clamp down on voices of resistance, may it be Bhima Koregaon or the Pathalgadi movement,” it added. “We demand that she retract such an irresponsible and baseless statement immediately, and issue an apology to JNUSU and the JNU student community for partaking in such vile slander and hate mongering.”