Controversial at the best, subtle not in the least, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was the centre of attention on Day 2 of the Khushwant Singh Lit Fest-2016. Not only was Kanhaiya’s session a huge hit, he was also swarmed by journalists later.
During his session with reporters titled — Nationalism: India has many faces — he said much that was deep-felt and did garner applause. Former minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was so impressed with the student activist that he congratulated him repeatedly on his performance in the session.
“It was the Army that decided to carry out surgical strikes, but the government was taking credit. The government must also be taken to task for failures,” he said. “It is being said that if Pakistan is wiped out from the map, all our problems will be solved. In a country where people are dying of chikungunya, the dropping of nuclear bomb is being talked about,” he added to applause from those present.
“The country has small-scale problems, but something else is being projected as our people’s issues. If you raise these issues, you are labelled anti-national.”
ANALYSIS OF TENSION WITH PAKISTAN
A word with a number of retired military generals at the fest presented contradictory views on whether tension between India and Pakistan was really at an all-time high. While Lt General Kamal Davar (retd) thought that tension between the two nations was ‘at its lowest ebb’, Lt Gen MS Bhullar (retd) did not agree. “Tension between the two nations was much higher during previous wars.”
FOREIGNERS ARE ENTHUSIASTIC
Scores of foreigners who thronged the fest were active participants at discussions. Though the topics were ‘inherently Indian’ and the language could have been an issue, most foreigners said discussions helped.
Note: The earlier version of this story wrongly attributed Kanhaiya Kumar as the president of JNUSU. The mistake is regretted.