Where's The JNU Student Movement Headed?
By Chandra Bhushan
05 May, 2016
It is claimed that the recent upsurge in student movement in India following the JNU row is going to be a united all India student movement. But I suspect. What will be form of the unity? Will it be mere stitching together the red flag and the blue flag? Or stitching together even all seven colours into one flag? Or a unity based on rainbow pattern where apart from seven separately identified and clearly defined colours one can find uncountable colour without clear cut definition or terminology? Or a pattern of unity where all the participant need not define his colour but to always remain so flexible to choose different colour and different position in different circumstances? The experiences of student movement all over the world in past indicate something else. The kind of colour that the recent student movement is now taking up is in complete contradiction with the most of the successful student movement in the world. Be it the student movements during 1960s in Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico etc or the JP Movement in India, or even Tiananmen movement in China and several other, the New Left movement always remained beyond party line and beyond the control of any iconic leader.
Most of those student movements was organised by different kind of democratic collective platforms such as Working Committee, Joint Action Committee, Coordination Committee etc. While something in contrast to that is happening in India. However when Occupy UGC movement started, it was led by Coordination Committee formed at national and state level. So, remained the case with student movement organised for the Justice to Rohith Vemula when Joint Action Committee (JAC) were formed across the country including in Delhi. But something radically changed after the release of the Kanhaiya. He became the unquestionable iconic figure. Ironically student leaders of JNUSU believe that the experiences of Coordination Committee during Occupy UGC and JAC for Justice to Rohith were bad. Does that mean they are delegitimizing the success we got in Occupy UGC movement where HRD ministry was forced to cancel her decision of discontinuing Non NET Fellowship? Does that mean they are delegitimizing ongoing movement in HCU for the justice to Rohith through democratic body JAC? What kind of democratic people they are who delegitimizes the democratic bodies for running a student movement? The student leaders of JNU is behaving as the Indian state treat with Panchayati Raj institution which is working on the principal of ‘I manage, you participate’.
Till now no democratic collective platform was formed while Kanhaiya (President of JNUSU), Shehla (VP of JNUSU), and sometimes Dontha Prashanth (Friend of Rohith Vemula and Student at HCU) visiting different parts of country and addressing audiences. When Kanhaiya was in jail course of action were decided jointly by all organizations, teachers and individual but once Kanhaiya is out on bail only his party AISF is deciding what kanhaiya will do, whom he will speak, where and when he will go etc. Our President and Vice-President had multiple meeting with all kind of renowned politicians, activists, academicians etc every time they need to decide anything but they never interacted with their fellow students whom they claim they are representative of. There has not been a single UGBM (United General Body Meeting) organised after the release of Kanhaiya where every students can speak and suggest who to proceed with movement. How can they claim their movement as the movement for establishing ‘true democracy’?
Different student organisations affiliated to their mainstream party, are organising their event and campaign line separately. Several Youtube channels, Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Websites are being run by different organisations without mentioning the name of their organisations so that they could legitimise themselves as running on the line of New Left movement. What kind of unity is this? The movement is now transforming from being a New Left movement to a party based student movement. Quite similar sequence of events happened during student movement in late 1960s and 1970s.
During post independence India, in place of mass student organisations, a number of local groups mostly of an adhoc nature have developed. Agitations have tended to be localized forced on university issues or local political conflicts, rather than rational or broader ideological questions. They were actively involved in the Naxalite movement, Chipko movement, Anti-emergency Movement etc. But the moment, Jayprakash Narayan emerged as the iconic figure of the anti-emergency movement, the movement entered into the electoral politics and what happen later everyone knows. Sangh-Mahasabha and Hindutva emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the agitation which finally led to the formation of BJP in 1980. Whoever is strong at grassroots level with strong cadre at ground will enjoy pulp out of the fruit of this current movement.
There has been hardly any successful movement in India that was organized by organizations involved in electoral politics. An electorally successful political party always emerged out of the movement but never a successful movement emerged out of unity of the political parties. The most recent one is the Anna movement out of which AAP emerged. Similarly BJP, Janta Party, SP, RJD, BJD etc emerged out of JP movement, while BSP emerged out of movement organized by Kanshi Ram. In more than 35 year of CPM rule in Bengal or in Kerala, they could not manage a single popular movement. Despite having unprecedented support in Bihar Nitish Kumar could not manage to make movement for special status to Bihar a successful movement.
Chandra Bhushan (changed name), Research Scholar at JNU and Friend of Kanhaiya
Note: I am changing my name because I feel little bit reluctant. I might be indirectly punished by my teachers and socially boycotted by the self claimed certified leftist activist of the campus if I criticize the movement publicly with my real name. I tried to raise these issues personally with some of my leftiest friends and feeling being socially boycotted since recent past.