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Fiercely critical of Kanhaiya’s arrest 3 years ago, opposition now just mute spectator

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Rahul Gandhi’s silence on sedition chargesheet betrays his disquiet about being cornered by the ruling BJP on the issue of nationalism.

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had once given a spirited speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in solidarity with Kanhaiya Kumar, the former president of the university’s students’ union following his arrest, has been conspicuously silent about the sedition chargesheet filed against Kumar earlier this week.

Gandhi’s silence, along with that of leaders from several other opposition parties, could reflect their disquiet about being cornered by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of nationalism.

On Monday, Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against Kumar and nine others in a 2016 sedition case for allegedly shouting “anti-national” slogans at an event in JNU.


Also readOn Kanhaiya Kumar, the gap between JNU inquiry and Delhi Police chargesheet


Studied silence

The Congress president’s cautious approach to the chargesheet is in stark contrast to his reaction to Kumar’s arrest in February 2016, when he visited the campus and also addressed the students.

That visit, however, put the Congress in a quandary, with the BJP using it to create a narrative about it being an “anti-national” party that openly supports those who have publicly spoken out against the country.

Gandhi wasn’t the only opposition leader to go to JNU then — senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Ajay Maken besides opposition leaders such as the Janata Dal’s K.C. Tyagi, and the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja had also visited the campus. Others like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also backed Kumar.

With Lok Sabha polls barely months away, the opposition seems to be in no mood to give fresh fodder to the BJP against it, especially on issues that tend to be emotive and politically delicate.

Some back students

Despite this, however, some politicians have criticised the move.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti compared the sedition chargesheet to Afzal Guru’s hanging.

“Just like the Congress hanged Afzal Guru ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections hoping for political gains, the BJP is repeating the same ahead of the 2019 general elections,” Mufti said.

Congress leaders and former union ministers P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal have taken to their personal Twitter handles to express their displeasure.

“The charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar and others is absurd. If it takes three years and 1,200 pages to make out a charge of sedition (based on a public speech), that alone exposes the motive of the government,” Chidambaram said in a series of tweets.

“Real sedition is when those in power manipulate institutions, misuse the law, breach peace and security by inciting violence,” Sibal tweeted.

Meanwhile, BJP ally Shiv Sena — with whom it has a troubled equation — has taken a dig at the saffron outfit, saying it can’t use Kumar’s case for political mileage.

“The BJP committed the biggest sin of aligning with Mehbooba Mufti, who considers Afzal Guru a freedom fighter and a martyr,” the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana. “Now the BJP, for its own benefit, should not try and take political mileage out of the sedition case filed against Kanhaiya.”


Also read: What Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid & Umar Khalid plan to do with their JNU PhDs


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5 COMMENTS

  1. No BJP has no guts to make the issue national as they will be shown the face of kashmir government.

  2. Are the charge sheets filed by Govt. or the police. Was he {mr. Chidambaram }filing charge sheets when he was a Minister?

    • Let court decide if it is sedition or tresion. We all have heard these scoundrels rant against India. What shameless Sibal and Chidambaram feel is not important. If these people were so called xoncern d about the archaic law, why Congress did not throw it. Me. Chidambaram is shamelessly exhibiting his SC Roble of a senior SC advocate, who is out on bail for criminal cases with his wife and son. So Mr. Sibal, Mr.PC, Mr. raGa support these traitors now if you have guts.

  3. Ruhiji you know better. The seven kashmiri yputh who have been accused along with the three according to Mehbooba herself were protected from being arrested. See how bjp has shown it’s patriotism. And even a child can understand that the filing of chargesheet after clear three years just three months before election is precisely to elicit a response as you would like to have from opposition so that with the help of the godi media the last refuge of the scoundrels could be effectively used before elections. The entire case is a bogus and will be stretched right up to elections and then coooly forgotten as Ram mandir is. The opposition should do well to be not trapped. And all right thinking people including the opposition must demand scrapping the law of sedition , archaic and a colonial left over.

  4. Unlike some among the police, the trial courts fully understand the law of sedition. Notably, guidelines framed by the apex court in 1962, reiterated recently. They will not imprison someone for life merely because the charge sheet is 1,200 pages long. Nowadays, in fact, judgments are a few hundred pages, charge sheets run into tens of thousands of pages. Eminent lawyers will represent the accused, pro bono. 2.When words can be mangled or twisted out of context, wisdom lies in speaking less.

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