Jawaharlal Nehru University, apart from being one of the best institutions of higher learning and research in India, has a glorious tradition of progressive and vibrant student movement. The institution of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has a lot of prestige and credibility not only among the students but the entire democratic-progressive section in the country. The JNU student movement is also known for its tradition of democratic political debates and dialogue, many of which are conveyed through pamphlets.
The incumbent JNUSU has called upon the students to join a campaign against BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi, although it has not specified which candidate it would support. The Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad – student wing of the RSS – brought out a vicious pamphlet attacking the JNUSU’s call for campaign against Modi.
The Democratic Students’ Federation – an autonomous and left student organization – has issued a pamphlet in response to the ABVP and exposing Modi’s larger politics. The second part of the pamphlet raises some relevant questions to the JNUSU in a bid to forge a broader unity of secular, democratic and progressive forces on campus.
The pamphlet issued by the ABVP yesterday (23.04.2014) challenging the JNUSU’s stand against the Modi-for-PM campaign reflects the desperation of the RSS-BJP camp. The true nature of the so-called “development” plank of the BJP has got thoroughly exposed through the communal venom that is being spewed by the likes of Praveen Togadia and Giriraj Singh, who are calling for forcible eviction of Muslim minorities from ‘Hindu’ dominated localities in Gujarat and threatening those opposed to Modi with deportation to Pakistan. The same RSS-VHP had called JNU an ISI den and demanded the closure of the university during the earlier NDA regime.
Narendra Modi’s henchman Amit Shah has openly campaigned on communal lines in Western UP, inciting the voters to take ‘revenge’ against other communities. This has happened in the backdrop of the riots in Muzaffarnagar last year, where over 60 persons were killed and 50000 rendered homeless, mostly belonging to the Muslim minorities. Modi’s decision to contest from Varanasi is a part of the same gameplan, to polarize the electorate on communal lines.
The Modi campaign is being run with the full backing of big corporate houses like the Ambanis and Adanis, who are spending thousands of crores on the propaganda blitz. The corporate media, major sections of which have been bought over, are aggressively propagating a Modi victory through manipulated opinion polls and advertisements. They are deliberately trying to whitewash Modi and BJP’s complicity during the Gujarat violence in 2002. Maya Kodnani, who is in jail for her role in the Naroda Patiya massacre, was inducted into the Modi cabinet in 2007. The ex-CM of Karnataka, Yeddyurappa, who was arrested on corruption charges, has been re-inducted to the BJP under Modi’s instructions. The media, however, is refusing to ask these questions to Modi, which clearly exposes his double-standards on communal violence and corruption.
India’s big corporate class has looted the country’s resources over the past decade under the Congress regime – from spectrum, to coal, natural gas and iron ore. Popular anger against corruption, corporate loot, price rise and joblessness has risen and the Congress party has got thoroughly discredited. Faced with this situation, the big corporates have shifted their support from Congress to Narendra Modi-led BJP. Their objective is to install another neoliberal regime under Modi, so that they can continue with their loot, plunder and exploitation of the people. This devious game being played by the big corporates need to be squarely defeated.
The DSF feels that the JNUSU must take a firm political position against the Narendra Modi-led BJP, not only in Varanasi but for the country as a whole. This is fully in keeping with the political mandate of the last JNUSU elections, as well as the long tradition of the JNU student movement, which has always risen up against communal-fascist forces. The JNUSU had taken a lead in organizing a students’ convention in 2004 calling for the defeat of the BJP-led NDA in 2004 elections, which was inaugurated by the former Prime Minister late Shri VP Singh.
The RSS-BJP is trying to silence all secular and democratic voices against Modi through threats and intimidation. ABVP’s challenge to JNUSU’s anti-Modi campaign is a part of a similar design. DSF wants to remind the ABVP that the JNUSU elections are neither fought on communal lines nor with the money power of Ambanis and Adanis. An overwhelming majority of the JNU student community vote for the left, democratic and secular student organizations on the basis of their ideological-political convictions. The JNUSU will fail in its duty if it does not represent the democratic aspirations of the JNU student community outside the campus.
JNUSU Must Clear its Stand
While welcoming JNUSU’s initiative to campaign against Modi in Varanasi, the DSF had put forward some important questions through a notice dated 18.04.2014. Rather than trying to address those important issues, AISA had chosen to indulge in petty name-calling against the DSF. Such a sectarian approach from the AISA, at a time when a broad based unity of the progressive, secular and democratic forces is the need of the hour, is most unfortunate. DSF reiterates the following questions for the JNUSU:
1. Why has the JNUSU hesitated so far in taking a clear-cut position on the general elections as a whole? Why is the JNUSU not giving a call to defeat the anti-people and corrupt Congress and the communal-fascist BJP? Why didn’t the JNUSU take a position during the Loksabha elections in Delhi?
2. While adopting a stand against Modi in Varanasi, why is the JNUSU not making it clear which candidate it is going to support in that constituency? Wouldn’t a campaign against Modi while not clearly supporting a secular candidate add to the confusion and divide the secular votes, which will only benefit Modi?
DSF notes with concern that the JNUSU office-bearers from the AISA are issuing public statements in the media, while not bothering to consult the JNU student community and forging a broad-based unity of progressive, secular and democratic organizations. This is reflective of sectarianism and one-upmanship. After the DSF notice on April 18, the General Secretary of the CPI-ML Liberation – AISA’s parent party – has already announced the party’s support to the AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi. If the JNUSU wants to campaign for the AAP candidate in Varanasi, it should be done in a transparent manner by taking the student community into confidence and putting forward the political reasons for the same. Non-transparency and manipulation in this regard will only erode the credibility of the JNUSU.
DSF reiterates its demand that the JNUSU should convene an all-organization meeting on an immediate basis to discuss its stand on the campaign for the 2014 general elections and clarify its political position before starting the campaign in Varanasi.
DSF calls upon the JNU student community to isolate the communal ABVP, rally behind the anti-Modi campaign and demand transparency from the JNUSU on its political position in Varanasi.
V. Lenin Kumar, Secretary, DSF-JNU Unit
Ishan Anand, President, DSF-JNU Unit
(This pamphlet was sent to Cafe Dissensus Everyday by Mr. Roshan Kishore. He is part of DSF Organizing Committee and a Ph D Student in CESP, JNU. Cafe Dissensus doesn’t endorse the views of any particular student organization.)
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