All through the (JNU) Presidential Debate, I was bemused initially with all candidates from different organisations claiming to have fought and raised slogans for me.
Later, it increasingly turned into discomfort. Did those who were saying this to score brownie points against each other realize that they were doing an extreme disservice to the Stand With JNU movement? Was the Stand With JNU so limited as to who raised slogans for whom, who took whose name at what juncture?
Was the Stand With JNU movement only about a few individuals? Or was it about a vision of a radical democratic university, which has fought against the forces of Manu and Market, which has stood with the oppressed and the exploited and where one can raise questions that has been criminalized by the state and the mainstream? If it is the former, then it ought not to be.
Stand with JNU was as much about learning our strengths as it was about being aware of our limitations, and even our privileges.
In a previous post, Anirban and I had stated that it is not important as to who stood by us. The real question is who stands with the students’ democratic right to raise questions about Kashmir, Afzal’s hanging, Operation Greenhunt, Bastar, capital punishment and so on. If you stand with the first and not the second, then the slogans are hollow. And all this is nothing but sensationalism and electoral opportunism – best exemplified in the NSUI candidate’s claims.
Such contradictions are however not limited to NSUI alone. BAPSA’s candidate Rahul Sonpimple began his speech with saluting the students for Stand With JNU movement, and later during the question-answer round spoke of how they were the first ones to raise slogans for my release (when no one else was taking my name).
Interestingly, BAPSA was one of the first organisations to dissociate itself from the Feb 9th event calling it “unconstitutional”. When much like Rohith Vemula, we were branded “anti-nationals” and the university was attacked, they cooked up a fancy conspiracy theory calling it a joint handiwork of BJP and savarna communists to divert attention away from Rohith’s institutional murder.
When students were unitedly fighting against the HLEC punishments, Rahul himself called it a stunt of savarnas (especially savarna muslims like me) to canvass for the upcoming elections! Till yesterday, their General Secretary candidate was calling the Stand With JNU movement – Stand With Janev movement.
Their flip flops, and a sudden urge to claim it and who raised slogans for whom, (after remaining away from it, mocking it all this while) is nothing but opportunism. Let us call opportunism by its name – in whatever hue and shade it comes.
This post of course is as much for the different parliamentary left formations who in the immediate aftermath of 9th February crackdown were not without their problems and contradictions.
Hence, its necessary to remind them once again, that the claims of Stand With JNU and the fight against fascism cannot and must not be constrained to just standing by two individuals and encash the same. Any such attempt tends to hollow out the movement of its ideals, and the individuals of their ideas.
In the coming days, many more such individuals, organisations and democratic spaces are going to face the brunt of such fascist attacks. The times will be testing, the students of this campus and all democratic forces are once again going to fight back. The upcoming JNUSU will have to decide where it stands.
(The content above first appeared on the author’s Facebook page. We’ve not changed the content except correcting some grammatical error. Views expressed here are Umar Khalid’s own and Jantakareporter.com doesn’t subscribe to them)