“The fight (against CAA) that we are leading today is for the flag that waves proudly in your hand, it is to save that flag that we fight today. It is to save the future of the children, it is the fight to save your right of being an Indian citizen.” said Kanhaiya Kumar at a massive rally organized in Supaul, Bihar.
Kanhaiya Kumar has been racing ahead in gaining popularity in Bihar for the upcoming elections. His rallies have thousands of people, especially the youth coming out in support for him. Kanhaiya Kumar is being hailed as being a future leader for Bihar. This definitely has sent ripples within the JDU-BJP alliance.
With the focus on Bihar elections coming up, the alliance is threatened by the rise of Kanhaiya Kumar’s popularity and public support. This could cause serious harm to BJPs already waning powers within the state. BJP has also come under criticism from many circles for orchestrating the riots in Delhi and attacking Muslim areas. This has meant trouble for the support that BJP has had in the past years. To do away with the threat that Kanhaiya and the anti-CAA movement pose, the BJP government has set in motion a plan to kill two birds with one stone.
The recent decision of Delhi government giving nod to prosecute Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others in 2016 sedition case is clearly seen as a way to clamp down on his popularity and stop Kanhaiya further designs in upcoming Bihar Elections.
Kanhaiya Kumar in a press conference also spoke about the timing and motive of the prosecution order. He alleged that the chargesheet was filed deliberately against him at a time when he was about to contest election in Bihar. “The chargesheet was filed for the first time when I was about to contest the election and now elections are going to be held in Bihar again. There is National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar and the state government has passed a resolution in the Assembly against National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR),”.
AAP´s U-turn under BJP pressure
AAP has come under heavy criticism from the public for their inaction and deafening silence with respect to the riots in Delhi. This followed by AAP now giving sanctions to the police to prosecute Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and others are seen as a sign that AAP is toeing the BJP line.
The sedition charge of 2016 had come into focus in 2019 as well. The AAP government then was criticised for not granting sanctions. The Magistrate in 2019 asked the government to expedite the process to grant sanction and not waste the time of the judiciary. Till 2019, the Delhi government had refused to give sanctions to the police to prosecute JNU students as they believed that their actions did not amount to sedition against the state. They argued that the sedition charges had gaps and could seriously affect the future of the students involved. The same government in 2019 has now taken a U-turn on this matter and given the sanction.
Crackdown on Anti-CAA movement
The anti-CAA movement is giving the ruling party sleepless nights. In the last 3 years, despite all the anti-people measures passed by the BJP government, it did not dent its electoral gains. But the movement against CAA is fast becoming an eyesore for BJP. The way the movement has brought students, common Indian masses standing side by side with Muslims was something that was beyond the calculations of Amit Shah. The international attention the movement and Shaheen Bagh has gathered has only tarnished Modi´s image further.
Kanhaiya Kumar’s smart jibes and popularity were not affecting the ruling party as he was seen as a stand-alone student leader with no masses behind him. But in the background of the anti-citizenship movement, Kanhaiya Kumar´s fully packed rallies are giving not just Nitish Kumar and Tejaswi Yadav jitters but also to Amit Shah, who was sure about BJP-JDU alliance comeback in upcoming Bihar elections.
The timing of the AAP government’s decision to prosecute Kanhaiya Kumar should be seen in that light. The sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid will be used to paint them as anti-nationals who are orchestrating the anti-CAA protests and subject them to media trials. This will give BJP ample opportunity to malign the duo and also discredit the anti-CAA movement.
This move also further exposes AAP as a soft Hindutva party. The sidestepping from the anti-CAA protests was dubbed as a tactic before the Delhi Elections but in the wake of the pogrom of Muslims in Delhi last week and now nod to Kanhaiya´s prosecution has taken off the mask of Arvind Kejriwal.
Further, this move by AAP allows both BJP and AAP to wash its hand of the violence in Delhi and blame it on the ‘anti-national’ forces behind the anti-CAA protests. This undermining of the movement will make it easier to shut down protests across the country.