New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital is set to reverberate with patriotic songs Saturday evening, with BJP MPs and singers Manoj Tiwari and Hans Raj Hans set to perform on the campus along with party leader and Bhojpuri superstar Nirahua.
In view of the Narendra Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has invited these leaders to the campus to politically encash the prevailing nationalist narrative in the upcoming university elections.
JNU had taken political centrestage in 2016 with Right wing outfits labelling it as the haven of “tukde tukde” gang, following protests by a section of students and “outsiders” who allegedly made anti-national slogans. Then JNU Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, a Left leader, and other students were later arrested and slapped with sedition charges.
These incidents had led to a heated and prolonged public discourse on nationalism and attempt to muzzle the right to dissent, involving the BJP and many of its allies on the one side, and the Left, the Congress and some other so-called secular parties on the other.
‘For freedom fighters’
On Saturday, the Jawaharlal Nehru University will hold a programme in remembrance of freedom fighters. Delhi BJP president and state’s North-East MP Manoj Tiwari and North-West MP Hans Raj Hans will attend the programme as chief guests.
Titled ‘Ek Shaam, Shaheedo Ke Naam’, the programme has been organised by ABVP at a ground near Sabarmati Dhaba in the university premises, days ahead of next month’s student body elections.
ABVP is the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), parent organisation of the ruling BJP.
“It is a patriotic event and we have taken permission for it. We have invited Tiwari ji, Hans Raj Hans and Nirahua for this musical night full of patriotic songs. It is a good initiative and has been appreciated by the students in the past too,” said Sidharth Yadav, state secretary, ABVP Delhi.
“The event definitely comes before the elections, but it is more of a coincidence.”
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The nationalist narrative
Many in the ABVP, however, point out that they are hopeful of doing better in the JNU elections this time as the move to abrogate Article 370 has found resonance among the students.
“Post abrogation of Article 370 there is a lot of enthusiasm among the Right-wing groups who have also become more proactive. The event is significant as this is the same JNU campus where the chants of ‘tukde tukde’ were carried out and today it will be full of patriotic songs,” said an ABVP functionary who didn’t want to be named.
“As far as the university elections are concerned it is going to be a close fight this time,” added the functionary.
In 2018, the United Left Alliance had won all four seats in the JNUSU election. N. Sai Balaji was elected as the president of JNUSU while ABVP’s Lalit Pandey secured a distant second position. The vice-president post was won by Sarika Chaudhary, who defeated ABVP’s Geeta Sri.
In last year’s elections, Left students’ groups such as the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and the Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) had come together to fight against the ABVP.