Trust JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar to find mirth even in stiff resistance. Taking a jab at the alleged efforts by the Mumbai Police to derail his first appearance in the city on Saturday evening, Kumar quipped, “They are busy changing venues; we are here to change the world.” The jibe drew a thunderous applause from the participants, numbering over 1,500. Slogans of ‘Lal Salaam’, ‘Nila Salaam’ and ‘Jai Bhim’, too, filled the air.
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, seen here with Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, also spoke on the occasion. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
At the Student-Youth Assembly against Discrimination, a programme hosted by 12 student organisations at Tilak Nagar’s Adarsh Vidyalaya, Kanhaiya won new supporters over with his quips.
He hinted at propping up a strong opposition to the ruling party at the Centre. He said politics for the current student movement washing over the country is a means to fight for justice — a fight that would continue till the death of capitalism, and exploitation of the labour class and the oppressed.
He asked youngsters to join the rising movement. “The movement by youngsters has just begun and it will not end till we bring about change. Each part of this country should see active participation [in the movement]. In Mumbai, too, we want our representatives to go door-to-door, and explain to people the Constitution and their rights. Educate everybody so that they begin to question the government’s disastrous policies. They (the government) are targeting a few higher education institutions. Let us create a society that will re-think government policies.”
Taking on Modi
The firebrand orator mocked the central government’s Make in India policy, dubbing it Fake in India.
“A girl died in Maharashtra’s drought-hit Marathwada and the Prime Minister of this country is busy with his selfies and wax statue. The current generation cannot to be fooled. If the government fails to bring about the change it had promised, the people will change them,” he warned.
Lashing out at divisive party politics and suggesting that the central government came to power riding on a wave of communal riots, he said, “Maharashtra once saw Ram Rath. We will have to bring alive the ideology of (saint-poet) Tukaram of the state, not the Bhagwa [saffron] Ram of the communal government.”
Again training guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kanhaiya said, “I’m constantly asked how I manage to travel the country since I come from an underprivileged background. Where is our PM getting the funds to go around the world like Vasco da Gama?”
Other student leaders stressed on the need for leaders from every nook and cranny of the country.
They student leaders demanded the implementation of their proposed Rohith Act, which aims at eradicating caste-based discrimination on campuses. On May 5, a student convention will be organised in Delhi, where a committee will be formed to work on the draft of the Act.
Other student leaders — Shehla Rashid, vice-president of JNU students’ union; Zuhail KP, president of Hyderabad Central University students’ union; Richa Singh, president of Allahabad University students’ union; and Nachi Muthu, president of the students’ union of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune — also gave rousing speeches urging students to join the movement to bring about a change.
Other speakers included civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, former judge BG Kolse Patil and noted filmmaker Anand Patwardhan.
Condemning the central government, Kanhaiya said the student movement is the best example of democracy. “Kanhaiya does not know Richa, Shehela does not know who is Zuhail and so on. Yet, we are all here today speaking for the same objective. Student wings from different parties and with different ideologies have come together in this massive student movement. What else could be the best picture of democratic politics?
This is why they (the government machinery) are scared of us.”