Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday quoted Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s speech attacking former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru — after whom the university is named — for raising the “cry of communalism” to divert attention from bigger issues, and said the country was facing a similar situation today.
Kumar was chairing an event on the campus organised by the Centre for Media Studies, on the ‘Contribution of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee to Higher Education, National Integration & National Security’. MoS, PMO, Jitendra Singh, former BJP MP Tarun Vijay and Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (retd) also attended the event.
Concluding the event, Kumar said, “In his speech on June 2, 1951 as a Member of Parliament, Mookerjee said, ‘The cry of communalism is being raised by Pandit Nehru just to divert the attention of the country when we are facing great challenges to overcome poverty, hunger, maladministration, corruption and complete surrender to Pakistan.’ Today, we are in the same situation. While we are fighting to build an inclusive, integrated and strong India, there are inimical forces both within and outside India who are trying to divert our attention from building a strong, unified nation.”
He said JNU took the concept of national security very seriously, and had therefore decided to set up a Special Centre for National Security Studies. “JNU is equally concerned about our national security. After detailed discussion in the Academic Council, we unanimously — barring a few dissents — decided to pass it. When I proposed this to UGC, they readily agreed,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the February 9, 2016 event on campus when alleged anti-India slogans were raised, MoS Jitendra Singh said those “bothering” the JNU Vice-Chancellor should “take away” from words of Mookerjee. Quoting him, Singh said, “Generally speaking, an Indian university must regard itself as one of the living organs of national integration.”
Singh said Mookerjee had been seen in a “narrow light” of being a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha. “He has given examples of Ashoka and Akbar as great kings during whose rules there was hardly any internal strife. Please note that he has named Akbar as one of the great rulers,” he said.
Vijay stressed on Mookerjee’s dream for Kashmir and said that only one flag — that of India — should be flying in the state. “He had always protested against do nishan (flag), do vidhan (constitution) aur do pradhan (sovereign head). Aaj wahan do vidhan aur do pradhan ki stithi khatam ho chuki hai. We are hopeful that only the Indian flag will remain there,” he said.
Hasnain quoted Mookerjee to argue against a state based on a single religion. “Nations founded on the basis of single faith will celebrate but won’t last forever. However, nations founded on the basis of respect for every faith will have a difficult beginning but celebrate forever,” he said.
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