05/03/2016 9:39 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Kanhaiya Kumar On Afzal Guru, Joining Mainstream Politics And Campaigning For The Left

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 4: Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar having interaction with media persons at his guides residence at JNU Campus on March 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. Kanhaiya Kumar was granted interim bail for six months by the Delhi High Court after spending 20 days in jail. Kumar was arrested on February 12 on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy after alleged anti-national slogans were raised on the JNU campus on February 9.(Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Following his return to JNU from Tihar Jail, Kanhaiya Kumar showed all the makings of a new political hero. His speech at JNU - telecast live on all major news channels - was fraught with wicked humour and searing retorts to all the allegations hurled at him by BJP leaders. Though Kumar's colleagues and friends Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are still in jail, his release sparked a wave of celebration on social media. Kumar also spoke to the media about various issues that he had not addressed or touched upon in his speech.

On Afzal Guru

While speaking to the media, Kumar cleared the air on his stand on Afzal Guru. He said, "Personally, Afzal Guru is not my icon, it is Rohith Vemula." But he went on to add, "Afzal Guru was a citizen of India, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir which is a part of India, and he was punished as per the law of the land. The same law permits citizens to discuss that punishment. Those who were discussing it, have been granted the right to do so by the Constitution."

In fact, the 'anti-national' slogan he was accused of chanting - 'Tum kitne Afzal maroge, Har ghar se Afzal niklega - was repeated by Kumar, with Rohit Vemula's name replacing Guru's. "Tum jitne Rohith maaroge, ghar ghar me Rohith niklega (The more Rohiths you kill, the more will emerge from every house)," he said.

On Umar Khalid being a soft target

Kumar exercised caution while speaking to The Wire on the issue of Umar Khalid, who is still in jail. He said, "The government is on the back foot, they are trying to run away from all this now. First they tried to frame me, but I don’t want to say too much about the case because it is sub judice. All I will say is that the truth cannot be turned into a lie. Wrong can’t be proved right, and right can’t be proved wrong. The truth will come out, and we will all be in this struggle together and put up a unified fight. And we will win, that is our belief."

However, while speaking to Hindustan Times, Kumar said that the government is using its power to bully students and vowed to fight them till the end. "The government is exploiting its power but we are fighting to ensure that there is proper utilisation of the state’s power (It should be exerted in the right direction). Yes some of us are still in jail and some more may go to prison. But whoever is involved, we will continue to fight for all of them."

Umar Khalid on his way to surrender.

On joining mainstream politics

In a comment that we suspect with warm the cockles of Venkaiah Naidu's heart, Kumar said he is a student first and not a politician. "I am not a politician, I am a student. I have no intention of joining mainstream politics or contesting any election. I want to question as a student and I will like to answer as a teacher in the future. So, the question about my political ambitions should be kept aside," said Kumar.

He went on to explain what he thinks his role as a student leader is and rubbished all insinuations about his political ambitions. "The people of the country have not voted for me... It's the students of the university who have. I am not the country's president but of the JNU students' union. I will only talk of them and for them," Kumar said.

JNU students rejoice after Kanhaiya Kumar was granted bail.

On #StandWithJNU

Kumar said that he is still trying to piece together what happened in the 22 days he spent in jail. He expressed gratitude to the people who carried the movement forward and made it a force to reckon. "Honestly, I did not expect that so much would happen if I go to jail. Suddenly from being a student learning about the system, I became a part of the system, facing sedition charges. At this point only thing I am certain about is that all is not well with our country," he told HT.

On campaigning for the Left in Assembly elections

Though Kumar had expressed his unwillingness to become a part of the country's mainstream politics, he couldn't say for sure whether or not he may have to campaign for the Left in the polls. Considering that the Left parties, almost irrelevant in national politics, will leave no chance to piggyback on their new student hero, Kumar has a touch choice to make in future.

He said, "It’s a very serious issue. If this question is posed to me as an individual, I may say yes or a no. But if the context of your question is that whether I am going to take the plunge in active politics so soon, I will say I am not prepared. These are just reports, there has been no communication from anybody. I came to know about this through the media only. No such offer has been made, so I cannot answer right now."

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