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Home » Opinion » The draw of Kanhaiya Kumar, from slogans for the marginalised to advertising for Congress

The draw of Kanhaiya Kumar, from slogans for the marginalised to advertising for Congress

By Shibangi Sinha Roy
Updated on :
Source: Quartz

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on June 12 re-launched the Congress-run newspaper, National Herald in Bengaluru after being temporarily suspended in 2008.

National Herald also ran into controversy after it was alleged that the Congress party gave interest-free loans to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company which published the newspaper. As per reports, AJL had made no efforts of repaying loans to All India Congress Committee.

You know something has gone fully mainstream when they’re commercialising it:

In the backdrop of the re-launch, the Indian National Congress has also released a short promotional clip for the newspaper. In the video, people are asked about their meaning of freedom. Interestingly, two stars are featured in the video namely Rahul Gandhi and Kanhaiya Kumar.

To remind you, Kanhaiya is a former President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union. He is also a leader of the All-India Students Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI). In February 2016, he was arrested and charged with sedition by the Delhi police for allegedly raising anti-India slogans in a student rally. The rally was called to protest the 2013 hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. Kumar was released on interim bail on 2 March 2016 for lack of conclusive evidence. Kumar denied the charges, and upon his release, gave a speech in favour of freedom in India.

Kumar, who was accused of shouting “anti-national slogans” at the rally, today, believes in propagating ideals of freedom through the medium of advertisement.

Kanhaiya Kumar
Source: PTI

“Efforts are being made to convert democracy into mobocracy,” Kanhaiya Kumar said a year after his iconic ‘anti-national’ speech.

He has been a trending topic on both social and mainstream media, sometimes in praises, sometimes in spoofs. It was Kumar’s arrest which stirred thousands of students to come out and protest both on and off campus, ensuring his elevation to household-name level.

Notably, this endorsement of a Congress mouthpiece by Kanhaiya Kumar helps consolidate the false binary of RSS and Congress, a binary which no sane mind will be ready to accept. It’s not the case that if one is against RSS, then one is necessarily pro people.

It is also to be noted that in Kumar’s iconic speech he talked about freedom and giving voice to the marginalised. But where has it trickled down to, in reality?

Source: NDTV

While there are many news outlets and portals floated by the marginalised of the society, about whom Kanhaiya himself will talk in his speeches; there is barely any of those he is endorsing.

National Janmat, National dastak, twocircles.net are portals which are owned by the marginalised communities and represent their interests. Would it have been great had Kanhaiya advertised on their behalf, but why would he not?

One is forced to wonder why Kanhaiya Kumar, who packaged himself as a proverbial messiah of the downtrodden masses last year, keeps his distance from this genre of publications while quietly skirting more politically glamorous publications such as the National Herald.

While the halo of trust on Kumar seems to be glimmering, below is the link to the full video of the promotional advertisement:


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