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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 13, New Delhi, March 19, 2016

Lal, Neel and Kanhaiya

Sunday 20 March 2016

by Nagender Rao

Prime Minister Modi’s administration brought pseudo-nationalism as its core agenda after failing to keep its election promises. The current chief of the RSS established its command and control office in the HRD Ministry to supervise the educational institutions in the country. The Hindutva elements are firing shots against the students of Dalits, OBCs, and minorities under the cover of nationalism. In Kanhaiya’s arrest, these forces made many mistakes and exposed themselves as ignorant people. They created doctored videos, morphed photos, sent messages from the fake twitter account of the Pak terrorist, Hafiz Saeed, to implicate Kanhaiya on sedition charges. A few TV channels, the Delhi Police, Home Ministry, HRD Ministry, Right-wing attorneys and some ex-servicemen unleashed unprecedented attack on Kanhaiya simultaneously. The mischievous persons did not realise that technology has a capability of exposing doctored videos, fake twitter accounts and morphed pictures. After India Today revealed the doctored video, then the pack of lies started collapsing. A contract-employee of the HRD Ministry cancelled her twitter account hiding it from the public. A similar case took place in the US. In 1986, the main person in the Iran-Contra scandal, Oliver North, deleted his e-mails and testified to the US Congressional Committee that he was not aware of the scandal. He was not conscious that the e-mail server can contain the information even though e-mails are deleted from the recipient’s account. He was found guilty for destroying evidence and sentenced to jail.

The suicide of Rohith Vemula infuriated students and secular groups. Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Hyderabad University changed the dynamics of the incident. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and many prominent personalities visited the campus and highlighted the vengeful attitude of the HRD Ministry. Instead of forgetting the incident and moving forward, HRD Minister Smriti Irani decided to teach a lesson to the students. Naturally, JNU attracted the attention of the Minister who was visibly annoyed. She took a page from the history of Hitler. The German dictator had blamed the Communists for the Reichstag Fire and acquired autocratic powers through the Enabling Act in 1933. He put opponents of the Nazi party in prison branding them anti-German. The same scene was scripted meticulously in India but could not be executed successfully because of strong Opposition parties, the media and courts.

JNU was under attack for several reasons for a long time from the Right-wing thinkers. The admission process and composition of the students community was exasperating for the ruling party. The HRD Minister tried to stop fellowships to the scholars but they fought back and restored the fellowships. Vociferous attacks were started to discredit JNU on the ground that the university was running on taxpayers’ money but it was involved in anti-national activities. A few media channels actively participated in disparaging the JNU. Providing education to the students is the basic responsibility of the government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been living on taxpayers’ money since 2001. His first contribution for the taxpayers was the Gajarat massacre in 2002. A fraction of the wealth of crony capitalists can run hundreds of JNUs. The Reliance Company acquired the Krishna-Godavari gas basin through manipulative techniques. In 2011, Reliance sold 30 per cent of its stakes to British Petroleum (BP) for Rs 4.6 lakh crores. Adani alone accumulated Rs 50,000 crores of wealth in the past two years. Successive governments are allocating land to crony capitalists for throwaway prices, displacing poor farmers and tribal people. Ruling parties never made the robbing of natural resources a topic of discussion but public universities where students of Dalits and tribal families can roam about without insults are being targeted.

The eloquent speeches of Kanhaiya did not contain objectionable material to implicate him in sedition charges. Whatever may be the reason, the government targeted a wrong person. His arrest on sedition charges, assaults on JNU academics, students and journalists by attorneys in Patiala House Courts and subsequently exposure of doctored videos led to explosion of the volcano of dissent. Kanhaiya got the best defence attorneys in the country without paying a penny. In recent history, no other person garnered the support from different ideology groups such as Congress Party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Aravind Kejriwal, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, BSP leader Mayawati and the two Left parties. Though he is from the CPI-affiliated students wing, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), his personality expanded exponentially beyond the strength of the CPI. The question is: how is Kanhaiya connecting to every section of society hitherto not accessible to the dogmatic politics of Leftists?

Communists made one of the biggest mistakes by not aligning with Dr B.R. Ambedkar in the 1952 Lok Sabha elections for social and political emancipation of the weaker sections. The elite class of the Communist leadership never understood the real pains and problems of the downtrodden sections but only gave slogans for the sake of public consumption. Recently, Hillary Clinton mentioned in the US Presidential debate that as a white woman she had a racial advantage compared to the black people and did not go through the painful experiences of black women. The Leftist leadership had the same disadvantage in understanding the problems of the disadvantaged people. Kanhaiya, a new phenomenon in Indian politics, is bringing the bahujan (neel) and Leftist (lal) forces together. He broke the stereotype of Left thinking within the framework of classical Marxism, invested it with Ambedkarism and gave it new content, slogans and agenda. In daily TV discussions, spokespersons of all non-BJP parties are advancing his arguments. Senior journalists Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai and others are defending his speech on different platforms. Secular and progressive people have found an anti-Modi messiah in him.

In the Indian epic, Kanhaiya had a purpose of ending the rule of Kansa. The avatar of Kanhaiya was born on February 12, 2016 when he was arrested to fight back. Venkaiah Naidu consoled the worrying BJP leaders that people would listen to Kanhaiya’s speeches until he joined the CPI to campaign in the coming Assembly elections. The BJP is betting on the disadvantages of the CPI to contain his message from reaching the masses. It is high time for the Left parties to reorient themselves from the perspective of the new awakened social forces in Indian polity. Kanhaiya has to decide his future course of action either to compartmentalise himself in a particular political party or build a mass movement with neel and lal groups against the Modi Government for dislodging its despotic rule in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the larger national interest.

Dr Nagender Rao worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad until 1995. Currently he is living in the US. While in India he used to contribute articles in Mainstream. He has sent this article for publication now with a forwarding note which reads: “Recent incidents in India being highly disturbing, I think no conscious person can take a neutral stand today.” He can be contacted at e-mail: nagender1@hotmail.com

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