Photo: Vikas Kumar/Catch News
After 20 days in prison, the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union was released from the Capital's Tihar jail on Thursday on a six-month interim bail.
Kanhaiya clearly didn't waste much time in returning to his campus, among his comrades: hours after his released he addressed a large gathering and made a fiery speech on the university, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government for attempting to malign the image of the prestigious varsity and inciting hatred.
Kanhaiyra urged the spontaneous gathering to agitate for their rights and freedom from capitalism, communal hatred and fake tweets and against using laws such as sedition against opponents. Students couldn't be tools for sedition, he said. Tanking the police and political leaders who supported him, he said he had full faith in the judiciary.
Here are some of the points he made:
The ABVP in our campus is more rational as compared to the ABVP outside our campus
This speech was historic - for JNU, for Left politics in general and for Kanhaiya. Perhaps it was the making of a new leader; from a different generation but from the same campus that gave the country some of the faces of curent Left politics in this country, including Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury.
The speech was sharply political, harking back to the times of Bhagat Singh. He may have flirted with flouting his bail coundition, but just about. And it is the same speech that would come to his defense. It wasn't an emotional attempt of a young man. Rather, it was a well-crafted collage, easy to understand.
Kanhaiya created a division of class and ideology, clearly identifying himself with the policemen, Dalits, farmers, youth, jobless, marginalised and all those who form the majority of this country, socially and economically.
"You (policemen) have no powers. The power is with them who take action on the basis of fake tweets. we are fighting for that azaadi," Kanhaiya said.
Interpreting his jail stint with mastery, he said: "I got two bowls in jail. One was blue and the other red. the jail was my India. the blue and the red were symbols of Ambedkar and the Left."
He identified himself with Rohith Vemula, mentioned Anirban and Umar in his speech, repeated his faith and belief in the Constitution and democracy, quoted Ambedkar and Lenin, talked about the issues that bother most people in this country and tried to expose failures of the government in a simple language.
The fiery speech, of course, raised the question of whether he was violating his bail conditions, including to "not actively or passively participate in any activity which may be termed as anti-national" and to try to control anti-national activities in the campus. Also, the professor standing guarantee for Kanhaiya should "ensure that his thoughts and energy are channelised in a constructive manner".
The students leader repeatedly referred to the Constitution and put out the disclaimer that his call for azaadi was not from India. He even said he salutes India's soldiers, but claimed the government's "cyber cell" will send doctored videos of anyone speaking against it. His criticism was chanelled towards the government and Modi.
As expected, the speech drew in reactions from a wide quarter, sending social media into a midnight tizzy. #KanhaiyaKumar became the top trend on Twitter. The hastag was mentioned over 40,000 times within an hour. While most twitter users applauded the speech, some continued to label him as a force that working to bring down Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rockstar #KanhaiyaKumar: Indian politics' latest startup- Milind Deora (@milinddeora) March 3, 2016
#KanhaiyaKumar is now like the legendary Che Guevara ; a young man who symbolizes a new young irrepressible India that believes in itself.- Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) March 3, 2016
What a spunky victory speech by Kanhaiya Kumar at JNU! As long as our student community is so brave and fiercely free, India will be proud.- Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) March 3, 2016
Dr Rakesh Sinha:
#liarKanhaiya said RSS chief Golwalkar met Mussolini. I never expected a JNU student to speak blatant lie in public.- Dr Rakesh Sinha (@RakeshSinha01) March 3, 2016
Just as TV channels helped catapult Kejriwal into national stature, same strategy at work for Kanhaiyya. Likely to work again- Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) March 3, 2016
On the campus, too, the mood was upbeat. Our correspondent caught up with a few of those present:
Overall, it may to be an overstatement to say that JNU perhaps witnessed the birth of a new leader on Thursday night.
With inputs from Vishakh Unnikrishnan, Shadab Moizee, Cyril Sam, Vikas Kumar, Suhas Munshi and Panini Anand
Edited by Joyjeet Das