'Pressing sedition charges against students for activism within the campus shows the failure of the administration.'
Shatrughan Sinha is angry and upset that fellow Bihari Kanhaiya Kumar -- president, Jawaharlal Nehru Union Students Union -- is being branded anti-national and has been charged with sedition without unimpeachable evidence.
On February 17, the MP from Patna Sahib tweeted in support of 'our Bihari boy', creating an expected flutter in Bharatiya Janata Party circles.
Shatrughan Sinha, the BJP MP from Patna Sahib, tells Subhash K Jha why he is angry that Kanhaiya Kumar has been branded anti-national.
Your tweet on Kanhaiya Kumar raised quite a furore.
You tell me, didn't I do the right thing?
Why are we labelling the boy seditious without proof? In The Telegraph, dated February 16, the full text (external link) of what he said has appeared. There is nothing seditious or anti-national in what he said.
A section of people, including lawyers have pounced on him.
This is really disturbing. We as a country should thrive on the principle of diversity in unity. Ekta mein anekta.
In a democracy, everyone has the right to an opinion and to freedom of expression. That doesn't give anyone the right to say anything anti-Constitutional.
But I repeat Kanahaiya Kumar, from what I know, said nothing anti-Constitutional. If I am wrong, he should be punished according to the laws of our country.
What do you define as anti-national?
This is the problem. If he is talking about burning down the nation or destroying our Constitution, he is anti-national.
If he has made careless utterances, gusse mein (in anger), josh mein (without thinking twice), nadaani mein (in his naivety) or bachpana mein (being childish), then we must understand that we are dealing with young minds who often speak without thinking.
Do you think the administration handled the issue properly?
It should have been tackled within the campus. Yeh andar ka maamla hai (This is an internal matter). The vice-chancellor should have been more prompt and judicious.
He should have taken stern action and rusticated the students found to be indulging in anti-national activities.
Why were cops called on the campus, and that too so casually with the VC's permission?
The entire matter seems to have been unnecessarily politicised.
I agree. It should have been handled on the campus.
Are you sympathetic towards Kanhaiya Kumar because he is from Bihar?
Bihar is most definitely my weakness and strength. But this is a matter of justice, not regionalism.
I would have spoken up for Kanhaiya Kumar even if he was from some other state.
So far, from what I've seen read and heard, he has said nothing seditious.
And please let me make it very clear: I am not speaking about the other students, I am only speaking about Kanhaiya Kumar.
I have no idea about what the other students did or said. That's a law and order situation.
Under no circumstance must we allow anyone to incite violence against our nation. That is not acceptable.
And please don't for a second think I am condoning anti-national activities.
Aren't you afraid of upsetting your party?
Life is not an ongoing party (laughs). There are times when one needs to stand by the truth.
My strength is my honesty. I've lived by my principles.
To me, politics is not my profession. I've come into politics as a mission.
I'll always practise healthy politics. Even in this matter, some vested interests are hell-bent on criticising me for standing up for the boy.
Kanhaiya Kumar was roughed up in the court premises. What's your take on it?
It's wrong. We belong to a nation that preaches non-violence. And we have violence being perpetrated against journalists and students on the premises of the court right under the watchful eyes of our legal custodians.
Kanhaiya is a son of an Indian family. He is an Indian. And he says he is proud to be one. Why should we not believe him?
A lot of people have stopped listening.
If they stop screaming they will hear the boy's protests. I will repeat what the boy said: 'Please maintain peace and do not get carried by hearsay. I don't believe in any kind of violence. And violence against the nation? Never! Not in this life.'
It should have been handled on the campus. It is so sad that this is happening at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, which has given this country such great leaders and statesmen.
Pressing sedition charges against students for activism within the campus shows the failure of the administration, not to mention the over zealousness of the police.