India's March 3 speeches: Why Kanhaiya sounded more exciting than Modi

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India saw two speeches on March 3 (Thursday). One was made by the prime minister of the country, Narendra Modi, in the morning while the other was by Kanhaiya Kumar, the student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who was arrested on charges of sedition but released on interim bail subsequently.

Not 'azadi' from India but 'azadi' in India, says Kanhaiya

Modi's speech, made in Parliament, was essentially a strong jibe directed at the Congress while Kanhaiya's one, made outside Parliament, was a cold retaliation against the right-wing camp, to which PM Modi, too, belongs.

narendra modi and kanhaiya kumar

Modi continued to play on anti-Congress sentiments; Kanhaiya played on anti-right sentiments

The two speeches made the day special in India's socio-political life. On the one hand, we saw a prime minister speaking his heart out on what good a party which ruled for the majority part of post-Independence era actually did to India. On the other, we saw a student leader asking what good the 'New Republic' under Narendra Modi has done on the question of social cohesion in the country.

High time BJP expands its viewpoint

The two speeches sent across the message to all concerned that history is a living thing and it marches forward, no matter what. If the BJP led by Modi is relishing the power today, thinking that it will benefit from the drawbacks of the Congress's rule over the past decades in the coming ones, the emergence of the Kanhaiya Kumars should act as a reality check.

Yes, the Congress has given us several reasons to criticise it today but the BJP can't take it for granted that those reasons will go on serving its interest in days to come. Modi gave a very engaging speech in Parliament on Thursday, sparing no stone unturned to ridicule and humiliate the Congress on the floor. But that was more of a political talk, limited between those who are either pro- or anti-establishment.

Kanhaiya has been made famous by the establishment's narrow politics

Kanhaiya Kumar, a face inconsequential so far, made the perspective bigger by playing on the space which has been created by elements that have become over-enthusiastic once the BJP came to power with a brute majority. He didn't care about being politically correct, just like the PM, but yet the two speeches refused to toe each other's line.

BJP's existence depends on Congress, which is a worry

But the BJP's political leadership hasn't cared about the fact that it needs to cater to a field which lies beneath the constituency that hates the Congress. If the BJP's existence only depends on opposing the party and idea of the Congress, then it will also vanish the day the latter disappears from the country's political scene. The architect of the 'First Republic' of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, did not have this challenge before him.

Ignore multiculturalism at your peril

The reluctance in acknowledging the idea of multiculturalism in any form is a serious limitation of the BJP and all that is right-wing fanatic. The counter-production of this ideological rigidity has given birth to people like Kanhaiya and given them the opportunity to ridicule the prime minister and his party, within hours after the latter did the same to the Congress.

Political history is a sort of cycle and there is no end to the journey attached to it. Modi's in-House speech might have earned accolades but its impact was drowned in the noise which was heard outside, in the campus of a university which is named after a leader who the current regime wishes to eclipse.

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