Arvind Kejriwal rightly said Kanhaiya Kumar delivered a brilliant speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a day after Delhi High Court granted him conditional bail for six months. Kanhaiya is no doubt an eloquent speaker. He is brighter than many of his peers in the Akhil Bhartiya Bidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the political rival of Kanhaiya’s All India Student’s Federation (AISF). No doubt ABVP had won the JNU student body election just a couple of times. Leaders of AISF, being the student wing of the Left, are known to be voracious readers and likely to more impressive in public speaking. On the other hand ABVP, the right wing organisation, runs most on the spirit of nationhood rooted in ancient Indian civilisation. The best ABVP speaker in JNU will cut a sorry figure in front of Kanhaiya. But does that mean the nation must give him a clean chit?

Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly exposed his lack of art of public speaking. In college functions, television interviews, and in Parliament, he had only embarrassed the party till now. The ‘Pappu’ of Youtube goes on trending, increasingly, day by day. Does that mean he is the worst politician? Going by Kejriwal’s apparent endorsement of Kanhaiya, Narendra Modi should be the best Prime Minister the country has got in decades. Millions of Indians think so. But Kanhaiya in his nearly one hour speech thrashed Modi and displayed sympathy for Rahul Gandhi for ‘unnecessarily’ booking him on sedition allegation. Rahul rushed to JNU to show his support to Kanhaiya and his group, for obvious reasons.

In politics, enemy’s enemy is an ally. This happened in the JNU controversy as well. Kanhaiya and his followers raised anti-Modi, anti-BJP and anti-RSS slogans, which works for all opposition parties – Congress, Left and Aam Aadmi Part (AAP). So they are seen in the company of Kanhaiya, to protest ‘curtailment of freedom of speech’ under NDA rule. Now what would the opposition call the ‘student’ leader holding an open meeting, a day after his conditional release, slamming the government on a government university campus? Is it not freedom of speech?

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 5, 2016)

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