New Delhi: Most blistering attacks for JNU's rowdy-rhetoric product Kanhaiya Kumar came from D. Raja, the general secretary of the CPI, the party Kanhaiya deserted to join the Congress party.
"The party, Communist Party of India, existed before he joined and will succeed even after his expulsion. The party will not end with him. Our party is for selfless struggle and sacrifices. Kanhaiya Kumar was not straightforward and truthful to my party," says D. Raja.
There was a lot of hype about Kanhaiya Kumar right from 2016 - when he was first arrested and then released, also in the run-up to the 2019 general elections when he contested as a CPI candidate from Begusarai in Bihar.
At one point, Kumar's Azadi slogan was equated as an 'anthem' against the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some more enthusiastic ones predicted - the central government has given birth to a formidable opponent in the future - and "2019 is not far off". The so-called '2019' (general elections) came and passed by, and Kanhaiya Kumar was humbled with a massive margin by BJP's vocal hardliner leader Giriraj Singh.
The BJP nominee Singh, now Rural Development Minister, had polled a massive 57 per cent votes against 22.02 per cent by Kanhaiya Kumar. Singh had polled 6,92,193 votes, while Kanhaiya Kumar, as CPI candidate, got only 2,69,976. Nevertheless, he finished second with RJD's Tanveer Hassan, polling 1,98,233 votes.
The CPI had banked heavily on his so-called image and thus gave the ticket to former JNU Students' Union president. Perhaps it did not bother much about his 'commitment', and so D. Raja is an aggrieved man today!
The irony is that he has landed in Congress. During the 2016 'image building' exercise, Kumar's slogan also screamed 'Azad (freedom) from corruption'. There is no harm in change. Politics is a dynamic affair, and as a political constituency, Begusarai also had undergone transition.
As a politically sensitive segment, onetime 'red forte' Begusarai is now an epitome of caste politics. "Thanks to Lalu Prasad's hyped emphasis on caste, Begusarai lost its trade unionism and leftists inclination," I was told in April 2019, days before the polls.
My visit had convinced me that the BJP would have the upper hand as Bhumihar and other Hindu votes were gradually consolidating in favour of Giriraj Singh.
Voters would say they want to back 'Chhatra neta Kanhaiya' but would go 'defensive' when quizzed about the infamous 'Tukde Tukde campaign'.
Thus, by enlisting Kanhaiya as a youth face for his party, Rahul Gandhi has ensured that even for the 2024 battle in Bihar or Gujarat or anywhere else, along with the so-called 'firebrand' image of Kanhaiya, he will make 'anti Tukde Tukde' campaign also politically sellable.
The campaign about nationalism and 'action against Pakistan' was visible in this township - once an industrial hub and a 'communists' pocket'.
The CPI's decision to field Kanhaiya Kumar from the seat also came as a big setback to the Gathbandhan - 'anti-Nitish anti-Modi' alliance politics in Bihar. And D. Raja was also slammed by RJD.
What are his merits? Other than being young, now he is 34 and would be 38 by 2024, there is nothing much Kanhaiya can bring into the heat and the dust of the electoral battle. The slogan of 'Azadi' could not be sold electorally in 2019 itself. So, what is making Rahul turn towards these faces - like Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mewani (an Independent MLA in Gujarat)?
In democracies, political parties and people often fall prey to sheer sloganeering and populism. In its efforts to build up the party with young and new faces, perhaps not knowing, the Congress is embracing too much populism. And even 'populism' goes well with English media and what I call the 'Sickular' crowd.
In Punjab, they have burned fingers by opting for Navjot Singh Sidhu, a cricketer to TV's 'laughter show' star, and now Kanhaiya Kumar.
Men look for the proverbial phrase 'tryst with destiny', but he can often land into a situation by simply trying the fortune with a tryst with the Congress party.
Of the 67 years between 1947 and 2014, 54 years the Congress party has been in power. So, if there are ills, the Rahul-Priyanka duo cannot wash off their hands. Kanhaiya Kumar will now be part of that symbol of the ruling elite.
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