New Delhi: JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday won accolades from non-BJP leaders for his rousing 'azadi' speech in which he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they asserted whatever he said is true and he was more nationalist than those levelling sedition charge against him.
29-year-old Kumar's 66-minute speech laced with wit and sarcasm last night on his return to JNU campus after he walked free from jail three weeks after his arrest, however, did not go down well with the BJP with Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu saying he was "enjoying free publicity". Naidu also said students in universities must study rather than getting involved in politics.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar backed Kumar's assertions of freedom from poverty and intolerance and said the "talented" youth leader was more nationalist than those levelling charge of sedition against him.
"The speech given by Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU after his release from jail is very effective. Whatever he said is true," Nitish told reporters at Patna Airport.
"Kanhaiya Kumar said we do not talk of freedom from India but freedom in India and demand independence in this regard," Nitish, who is a senior JD(U) leader, said.
"Kanhaiya Kumar put forth his views like there should be freedom from hunger, poverty and intolerance," he said and hailed the JNUSU President for putting his views effectively.
"These prove that our new generation has a lot of capability. The coming forward of such a talented student and youth will strengthen the roots of democracy in the country," he added.
Kanhaiya was slapped with sedition charge for allegedly raising anti-national slogans during the protest against the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on his third death anniversary last month.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who tweeted "What a brilliant speech by Kanhaiya" as the latter was speaking last night, today said, "I told you several times Modi ji (Prime Minister), don't mess with students. Modi ji did not pay heed."
What a brilliant speech by Kanhaiya...— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 3, 2016
"Heard Kanhaiya's speech many times. Amazing clarity of thought expressed wonderfully. He said what most people have been feeling.God bless him," he tweeted.
Heard Kanhaiya's speech many times. Amazing clarity of thought expressed wonderfully.He said wat most people have been feeling.God bless him— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 4, 2016
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the speech was "testimony" to the fact that JNU students are demanding the creation of a better India and that they are the "foot soldiers" protecting the secular and democratic character of the Indian republic.
Congress' Ashwani Kumar said his party has been maintaining that Kanhaiya did not utter anything anti-national at any point and yesterday he made it more clear through the speech.
Hailing Kanhaiya's speech, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said there should be more and more "Kanhaiya Kumars" in our country "so that people could live and sleep fearlessly as he is the true nationalist and not anti-national as BJP has branded him."
"At present, students go to colleges and universities with lot of fear as they do not know at what time and on what issue ABVP will start its activities which may result in confrontation with other groups.
"I am impressed with this student on his understanding of the issues of the nation. His speech was that of very matured person. The country needs such students who are really nationalists and are thinking about the country," he said.
Kanhaiya is a "real hero and true nationalist" and to brand him anti-national was anti-students and especially against those hailing from poor background, he added.
Venkaiah Naidu suggested that if Kanhaiya is interested in politics he should join his "favourite party" which, he said sarcastically, does "not even have in single digit" in representation in Parliament.
"He is getting free publicity and enjoying the publicity. The question is let him condemn those slogans, let him distance himself from them. Let him help the authorities curb such activities in universities.
"Universities are meant for education. They must study rather than getting involved in politics. If they are interested (in politics), then they can leave study and join politics. He can join his favourite party which does not even have single digit in Parliament," Naidu said.
Kumar represents All India Students' Federation (AISF), the students' front of Communist Party of India (CPI) which has one seat each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.