As we go to press, Parliament and the media have been filled with the developments around the crackdown on Jawaharlal Nehru University student leaders. While all the initial noises the police and government made focused on their alleged anti-national acts of sedition, in HRD minister Smriti Irani’s defence of the government position the truth came out. During a dramatic speech by Irani in each house of Parliament her histrionics verging on hysteria were reserved for two issues: Rohith Vemula’s suicide at Hyderabad Central University and the observance of Mahishasur Martyrdom Day at JNU.
Irani’s attempt – in her convent-school English and TV-soap-opera Hindi – to conflate these caste-related issues with the allegations of anti-national activities by leftist student leaders at JNU have led to more the confusing than the fusing of issues and ideas. Oh, what a tangled web they weave! Fortunately FORWARD Press can untangle this web of lies, half-truths and obfuscation to get at the truth. As our readers know we have always been committed to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – so help me God!
In our longest Cover Story ever FP Editor Pramod Ranjan – using facts and analysis – gives us the inside story of the emergence of Bahujan identity and discourse from the margins to the centre of JNU’s student politics and intellectual culture. The debrahmanization of the leading Hindu Bahujan students as a result is seen as a strategic threat by the Sangh. The confluence of this Phule-Ambedkar-Periyar stream of thought with the politically dominant leftist Marx-Lenin-Mao stream is even more worrying to them and their student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). It is therefore no accident that both the attack on FP and me in October 2014 over the Mahishasur issue and this latest attack on the JNUSU president and the Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) were initiated by the ABVP at JNU. For that matter, Rohith Vemula’s suicide was triggered by a false complaint against him by an ABVP member. Normally and logically, the ABVP should by now be in the dock but all this is happening under Modi-Rajnath raj.
It is with some remaining hope that our regular contributor Prem Kumar Mani addresses a long open letter to the prime minister. Mustering all his historical, cultural and political arguments Mani appeals to Modi to open his eyes and see the truth. He ends on a personal but impassioned note: “In your own words, you come from a lower caste, a backward community. You are a proletariat in Marxist jargon. … I can have some faith in you. Maybe a dialogue with you can help. Sometime back, when you were garlanding a bust of Ambedkar, I just thought how good it would have been had you put a garland of his thoughts around your neck. It would have initiated a silent revolution. … You should revolt against the Manuvadis, destroy them. Their country is phoney, their religion is phoney, and their nation is phoney. Come out of this palace of deceit and lies, Modi ji. It will benefit you; but it will benefit the country more.”
The theme once again is that only the truth can set you free. Already the lies woven into Smriti Irani’s parliamentary speech have been exposed by the media and on social media. It is therefore all the more distressing to read the prime minister tweeting a commendation of that speech and ending with the motto of the Indian republic, Satyamev Jayate! May the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth prevail.
Until next month … Truthfully,
Published in the March 2016 issue of the Forward Press magazine