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Obnoxious generalisations "rampant" for rejecting Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai

By Nalini Taneja*
From the vociferous political discourse in the media – both social media and channels – it seems Begusarai results will decide the fate of the nation, or at least the fate of social justice in this country. And, by this logic, if Kanhaiya Kumar somehow wins, it's the victory for upper castes and defeat of all marginalised, including the Muslims who constitute a sizeable section of the population in Begusarai.
Added to this arsenal is the argument that even if he stands for the marginalised, he is not of the marginalised, and ideally, especially for this contest, the baton should be in the hands of the marginalised, in this case a Muslim. And Tanveer Hasan fits the bill, while Kanhaiya does not. Besides, Tanveer Hasan is a leader of standing, and Kanhaiya is kind of an upstart.
Let us not go into the motivations of those who are arguing all of this, as this derails the debate to matters of sincerity. We assume, with due respect to all, that all actors in the contest and in the debate are credible and have some credible things to say.
Most importantly, generalisations have validity and gain strength only if exceptions are taken care of. No generalisation holds true without the concrete situation on the ground. For starters, there is absolutely no doubt that Kanhaiya would be a good parliamentarian.
For the past three years he has shown courage, consistency, force of argument and facts, and a much above average capability of communication, in varied forums and with different audiences, the huge public gatherings, seminars and workshops. He certainly does not lack skill, motivation, or capability in putting forward a people’s agenda or intervening with the democratic standpoint in Parliament.
It is to his credit that he has remained with the Communist party he was member of since before he became president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students Union, through phases when any political party would have welcomed him.
If it were not Begusarai, one could say he is standing from one of the weakest national parties and is managing to gain support of people much larger than around his party. On many occasions he has taken public stands far more radical than that of the parties, like those of many activists and individuals who are on the list of this government for being punished. We know who they are.
It is true that Communist parties continue to be dominated by, and have by and large, an upper caste leadership, and this needs to be changed. However, using the example of Kanhaiya at this point and occasion is wrong.
He has neither come to the Communist party or to mass politics with a silver spoon. If democratic politics implies leadership of the marginalised themselves, it also implies the overcoming of the sectional differences among the marginalised and a declassing, or de-casting in this case, of the privileged. He has only shown promise so far, in this regard. In any case, he can’t be seen as the organic spokesman of the Bhumihar interests or of the opportunistic middle strata of any caste.
The spectacular success in crowdfunding – a first time for a few candidates in this elections – the questions and answers seen in his election meetings and sincerely responded to, the content, nature and form of campaigns are a positive in these elections.
That Kanhaiya is not a Muslim and Tanveer Hasan is, can gainfully be ignored in this context. Not because of Kanhaiya, but because again a generalisation cannot be made absolute. We know of Muslims the BJP has been able to lure and the many non-Muslims who are staking their lives for justice and equality for Muslims.
Let us have more and more Muslim representation, but let us not make a fetish of it. Kanhaiya is no obstacle or danger to Dalit or Muslim representation, or even to Yadav/OBC representation. He is a strong ally. And he has obviously chosen Begusarai because he is born and brought up there and belongs there. He is a child of Begusarai.
It is heartening that neither Kanhaiya nor Tanveer Hasan have attacked each other. Wish the followers of Tanveer Hasan would also go by that. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has not thought it fit to support a young emerging leader, but at least he can be spared the attacks. Have hardly seen a word against Giriraj Singh from the detractors of Kanhaiya. I, like many, find this stance misplaced and unfortunate.
Nalini Taneja
I don't know what Kanhaiya would do in the future, but I am surely elated that Begusarai, once a bastion of the left, today again resounds with left slogans and left graffiti. Should they not be given a chance in a country where hatred and strife are being promoted?
I don't know Kanhaiya personally, nor do I expect the heavens from him – some people are putting a huge burden on individual and young man at that – but I would still say: Please vote Kanhaiya in Begusarai!
---
*Worked at Delhi University, graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

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