“Jio Modi”, Kabali and Gabbar – are all there in the mix as Jawaharlal Nehru University holds elections to its student body on September 9.
The election will be closely watched after the university was rocked by protests early this year that snowballed into a political firestorm after some student leaders, including JNUSU outgoing president Kanhaiya Kumar, were arrested on charges of sedition.
Kumar’s All India Students’ Federation (AISF) may have decided to sit out the JNU students’ union (JNUSU) elections but the campaign is not short of drama or action.
“Ye kehte hai Bapsa ko vote mat dena, ABVP aa jayega. Sathiyo Gabbar aa jayega Gabbar aa jayega kab tak chalega (They say that don’t vote for Bapsa because it bring in ABVP. Friends, how long will they keep saying Gabbar will come, Gabbar will come)?” said Sonpimple Rahul Punaram, the presidential candidate of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), criticising the tie-up between the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Students Federation of India (SFI).
Remember the famous lines: Jab bachcha raat ko rota hai, toh maa kehti hai bete soo ja … nahi toh Gabbar Singh aa jayega? Gabbar?
Kabali is Sonpimple’s answer to Gabbar, the iconic villain of the 1975 Hindi film Sholay.
“Mai kehta hun Gabbar nahi aayega, iss baar Kabali aayega Kabali (but this time, Kabali, and not Gabbar, will come). There is a new wave of Ambedkarite movement across the country,” Sonpimple told students at a campus meeting on Wednesday night, referring to the latest Rajnikanth film inspired by Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.
Rival Mohit K Pandey of the AISA-SFI took on the university rivals but saved his best for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government is accused of trying to saffronise the largely Left campus.
“When Dalits were being beaten up in Una, Modiji said shoot me, shoot me. Reliance (Industries) took it very seriously. They shot him and splashed it in the newspapers. He wanted to be pradhan sevak (chief servant) and now he is pradhan model (chief model) --- Jio Modi, Jio Modi,” he said, a reference on Reliance’s campaign for its 4G Jio service.
Pandey in one stroke cornered the Centre over violence against Dalits and repeated the charge that the BJP government was pro-industry and anti-poor.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh which is the ideological mentor of the BJP, took on the Left outfits.
“On February 9 you raised slogans calling for breaking up of this country and then you say ‘stand with JNU’. It was you who raised the slogans, not JNU,” said ABVP’s presidential candidate Janhawi Ojha.
She was talking about alleged slogans shouted during an event to commemorate Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Ojha criticised the Aisa for allegedly failing to pursue the rape case involving a member. “They should be scared as a sherni (tigress) is here,” she roared as supporters cheered her on and opponents booed her.
Will it be Sherni or Kabali or someone else who will lead the JNU students for the next year? September 12, when the votes would be counted, will tell.