The former Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar appears to be on way to bring new blood and verve to the politics of not only his home State, or Bihar, but also to that of the rest of the country. The reason for this is that he for past couple of years or so was relentlessly fighting the siege faced by liberal values and ethos that were built in the country since pre-independence days or through the freedom struggle. So much so that these values became firm and abiding principles of public policy and discourse, courtesy the Constitution adopted soon after independence.
Kanhaiya’s likely decision to contest next parliamentary polls from his native place Begusarai is definitely going to prove a shot in the arm of a beleaguered opposition. The motley crowd of Opposition parties and leaders has often soft peddled on issues risen because of the assault on time tested liberal traits and mores by the present Government both at the Centre and in several States, including Bihar where Janata Dal (United) and BJP have come together to run the show.
Living far from Bihar and in Delhi to be exact for past several years, Kanhaiya is among those who could not escape the ire of the new government. And this has been so mainly because of his staunch belief in egalitarian, imaginative, non-discriminatory and people’s oriented politics that has generally come under the worst ever attack in the recent years. He was put in jail and was dragged to courts where among other ordeals he was physically assaulted and mauled by a few BJP-supporting lawyers.
It is in this backdrop that Kanhaiya will now be going to the people’s court. His fight for justice has thus far generally got the support of the regular courts that helped him to avert disciplinary action by the higher ups of his university and he could successfully complete his research in African Studies at JNU. The entire trial ever since an unseemly incident in February 2016 has actually shaped a scholar-activist of sorts called Kanhaiya. And now as the brute force behind his tribulations is going to come to the virtual tether Kanhaiya has decided to rise and try his luck, fortitude and grit once again and possibly become a law-maker.
He is on the CPI or Communist Party of India’s national council. He has graduated to this higher forum of the party from its students’ organisation AISF, or All India Students Federation. His likely entry to politics has generally been welcomed in the Left circles as also by other Opposition, or centrist, parties. These parties have shown their inclination to make him their joint candidate from Begusarai against the ruling NDA, or National Democratic Alliance, that rules both the Centre and Bihar with the Bharatiya Janata Party and JD(U) being the main constituents of the ruling alliance.
In the past Begusarai has virtually been a Left bastion but through the years it fell to myriad other parties before coming to be controlled by the BJP whose Bhola Singh is the current MP in the Lok Sabha. The reason for its slipping out of the hands of Communists has actually been the rise of caste and communal politics and a virtual war that ensued on sectarian lines. This wiped out the class and the struggle around it that the Left often tries to bridge and reconcile. So Kanhaiya faces a daunting task by entering into the virtual minefield laid down by caste battles and communal war cry that has been dogging not only Bihar but also most of the Hindi belt through recent years and may well be past few decades.
Yet, what goes in Kanhaiya’s favour and signifies hope for him is that of late a few youth leaders like him have been making their mark in politics and public life. This has been more so recently in case of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State Gujarat where Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor have been challenging the might of the BJP and the NDA. So Kanhaiya at the age of 31 is going to be another youth leader in this new breed of a somewhat successful lot that has been trying out a different vision to challenge the rise of new conservatism meant to nurture market instead of bringing parity, equality, peace and accord among the people.
The battle lines being drawn in Begusarai may well find Kanhaiya pitted against a Central Minister Giriraj Singh who is known for some of his controversial views mostly expressed through the run up to the last Bihar Assembly elections held in November 2015. This is so since Bhola Singh is nearing the age of 80 and the Prime Minister and his party point-man Amit Shah believe in relying upon the younger lot of candidates to take on the main opponents.
Another reason because of which it can well be so is that the BJP may try to engage Kanhaiya in Begusarai so completely that he is not able to move beyond the confines of his constituency and cause further damage through his fiery speeches and well argued points against the saffron brand of politics.
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