Kanhaiya’s motorcade attacked again

Published on Feb 14, 2020 11:46 PM IST
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BySubhash Pathak and Prashant Ranjan


Stones were pelted on the motorcade of Communist Party of India (CPI) leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, on Friday, the eighth such attack since January 30, while he was on his way to Ara from Buxar to address a rally, one of a series he has been holding across the state to amplify voices of protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC).

Kumar escaped unhurt but the vehicle in which he was travelling was damaged , police said. One person was injured in a related accident and been admitted in a local hospital, they added.

Ara superintendant of police, Sushil Kumar, said Kumar and other leaders were rescued and escorted to safety. “One young man reportedly got injured when his bike was hit by a vehicle in the motorcade, which tried to steer away from the stone-pelting crowd. We will question the injured person,” the SP said, adding that 18-20 youmg men, riding motorcycles, attacked the motorcade and then escaped. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the injured was one of them.

Congress MLA and former Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union (JNUSU) leader Shakil Ahmad Khan, who was accompanying Kumar alleged that the convoy was attacked by Bharatiya Janata Party supporters riding bikes,and it was for the first time that the vehicle in which Kumar was travelling got damaged.

The BJP denied the charge and said people are opposing what he termed Kumar’s nefarious design to divide the country. “The attacks on him are all staged-managed to create sensation and get publicity. If he is so bothered about these attacks, he should lodge complaint with local administration,” said BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand.

Police said Kumar’s convoy was attacked seven other places, including West Champaran, Chapra, Katihar and Saharsa. Opposition leaders claim that the attacks are an indication of the lawlessness in the state and the bid of the BJP, part of the coalition that rules the state, to suppress any dissent.

Some analysts see the rallies as Kumar’s attempt to project himself as a pan-Bihar opposition leader, who can take on the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the state assembly elections that will happen later this year.

“Yes, these rallies have helped Kanhaiya to project himself as a strong political face in the state. Till now, he was known only as a JNU student leader,” said Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, former head of economic department at Patna University, referring to the fact that Kumar was previously headed the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU). “But, Kanhaiya alone cannot do much electorally. He needs other opposition parties,” said Chaudhary said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the CPI was not part of the opposition’s grand alliance as the Rashtriya Janata Dal was not willing to accommodate the Left party. Kumar contested from Begusarai, and came distant second. The seat was won by union minister Giriraj Singh, who received more than 50% of the total votes polled; RJD candidate, Tanveer Hassan, came third.

The leaders of other grand alliance parties such as the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) are keen on an alliance with Kumar and his party.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistake of Lok Sabha polls by keeping the left parties out. We want all opposition parties to contest the assembly elections under the banner of grand alliance,” said a Congress leader who asked not to be named. This person added that the issue is being discussed with the senior partner in the alliance, the RJD.

Chaudhary, however, doubted that the grand alliance would accommodate Kumar in the face of opposition from the RJD.

Reacting to the attack, Kumar, whose rally has the theme of protecting the constitution, said such acts would not deter him from his drive to foil the nefarious design to divide the country in religious lines. His rallies, which started on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary on January 30, are set to conclude with a final one in Patna on February 29.

The rallies are part of nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. There are fears that this law will be used in tandem with a National Register of Citizens, as suggested by many BJP leaders and ministers. A similar NRC exercise in Assam last year left out 1.9 million people, both Hindus and Muslims. The fear is that a CAA-NRC combination would protect Hindus but not Muslims left out of any such exercise. To be sure, the government has since clarified that a NRC isn’t in the works.

Kumar has opposed only the National Register of Citizens saying that it would create a “wedge” between Hindus and Muslims.

“I am not opposed to the citizenship act but a drama is being executed by BJP-led Central government on the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) to create a divide in the society. NRC, Hindu-Muslim and India-Pakistan issues are being unnecessarily raked up to divert people’s attention from the core issues such as price rise, joblessness, poverty and a growing sense of insecurity due to hatred,” he said at the rally at Ara.

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari condemned the attack saying that there is no place of violence in democracy. “Being a leader of the CPI, Kumar has every right to put forth his view points,” said Tiwari. He, however, refused to comment on whether RJD would agree to make Kumar part of the grand alliance or not.

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