The CPI is banking on sedition-charged student leader Kanhaiya Kumar to spread Leftist ideology on campuses across the country, seen as an attempt to revive the electoral relevance of the country’s second oldest political party.
CPI general secretary G Sudhakar Reddy said the party wants the students’ union leader of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to spend more time on campuses rather than burdening him with campaigning in the forthcoming assembly elections in four states.
Kumar, a member of the CPI’s students’ wing, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), achieved iconic status after his arrest last month on sedition charges sparked a nationwide debate on nationalism and free speech. Kumar is out on interim bail.
The CPI, which had said indicated Kumar will campaign for the party in the assembly polls, has come round to the thinking that instead of than spreading Kumar’s stardom thin, it will make better political sense to use its young face on campuses.
“Now, Kanhaiya Kumar is busy with his own campus (JNU). He will be interacting with students from other universities and travelling to campuses in many parts of the country,” Reddy told Hindustan Times.
He added Kumar will soon visit the Hyderabad Central University, the epicentre of an agitation against alleged bias against ‘lower-caste’ students, triggered by the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Reddy also the party was concerned about the possible security threat to Kumar.
“What worries us the most is BJP not condemning unequivocally the threats to him coming from what are known as the fringe elements of the Sangh Parivar. That emboldens these groups.”
Despite the party’s falling electoral fortunes over the years, Reddy said his party was battle-ready for the forthcoming polls.
In Kerala, the CPI has demanded 29 seats to contest under the CPM-led alliance Left Democratic Front (LDF). The party had contested 27 seats last time.
In West Bengal, the party will be contesting only in 11 seats against 14 seats it had fielded candidates for last time.
“In Kerala, we are sure of a Left win… in West Bengal, we are sure the people will vote out the corruption-stung Trinamool,” he added.
At present, CPI has one just one Lok Sabha MP from Kerala.
The party once had considerable presence in Kanhaiya Kumar’s home state Bihar including the first CPI MLA in the state, Chandrashekhar Singh, who belonged to his hometown Begusarai.