File image of Jayant Kumar | YouTube
File image of Jayant Kumar | YouTube
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Jayant Kumar, who is running for JNUSU president, says his party wants to promote the politics of secularism and social justice.

New Delhi: Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has made its first foray into the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s student politics, determined to expose the ‘shamelessness’ of the Right and the ‘hyprocrisy’ of the Left.

In Friday’s JNUSU elections, the Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal (CRJD) featured on the ballot, led by presidential candidate Jayant Kumar, a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Media Studies.

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Jayant, who was the JNU unit secretary of the CPI-affiliated All India Students’ Federation (AISF), had resigned from the party on 12 August, blaming former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar (who belonged to the same federation) of being a ‘casteist and a liar’. Soon after, the RJD had announced that it would be contesting under Jayant’s leadership.

A question of ideology

Unlike the Delhi University, JNU’s politics tends to be a lot more ideological, with the Left being the dominant force and the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) the perennial opposition.

Like the last few years, this time too the Left parties are contesting as a single unit, comprising of the AISF, the CPI(M)-affiliated Students’ Federation of India (SFI), the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Democratic Students’ Federation.

And while CRJD’s Jayant, like the Left, criticises the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, he also spares no opportunity to highlight its fallacies.

At Wednesday’s presidential debate, Jayant received a lot of praise for his speech, which was filled with Hindi one-liners like, “Data nahin atta chahiye” (Flour needed, not data), “Smart city nahin smart gaon chahiye” (Smart villages needed, not smart cities).

He also seemed to paraphrase Gulzar’s famous lyrics to the song Mera kuchh saaman, saying: “PNB khokhla ho chukaa hai aur logon se kehta hai ke tumhare pas mera kuchh saaman rakha hai, wo samaan lauta do” (The PNB has become hollow and is asking people to return its belongings).

His words targeting the Modi government’s policies were well-received by the audience.

But then, taking on the Left, he said: “There is a huge difference between the preachings and actions of the Left. It’s very easy to say that the Dalits should get rights, but they don’t do anything about it.

“They say if Dalits are harmed then blood will flow on the streets. But here, even water doesn’t flow.”

Talking about Najeeb Ahmed, the JNU student who has been missing for almost two years and hasn’t been traced yet despite the involvement of the country’s premier investigating agency, the CBI, Jayant hinted that AISA must share the blame for his disappearance.

“Those (AISA) who say they are fighting for justice for Najeeb are the ones who signed on the letter that said his hostel should be changed as his mental condition was not right,” he said at the debate.

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Unsurprisingly, Jayant praises Lalu and his policies, even hailing the “feminism” he had exhibited 26 years ago.

“In 1992, Laluji, as chief minister of Bihar, had provided a two-day special leave for menstruating women. The world is considering that only now,” he told ThePrint.

The road ahead

Like its parent party, Jayant said the CRJD wants to promote the politics of secularism and social justice. He is hopeful that the CRJD will win the JNUSU elections, the votes for which will be counted on Sunday 16 September.

“At the presidential debate, a lot of students were supporting me. This is a symbol of acceptance of secular and socialist politics — the same politics which has kept a diverse India united. We are here to keep that politics alive, and for that, we will also go out to other universities,” he said.

The next stop for the CRJD, Jayant says, will be to make inroads in DU and Jamia Millia Islamia in the capital, and in all central universities in the country.

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