Makarand Paranjape, poet and professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday took on students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing sedition charges, asking him whether he checked his facts before delivering the much celebrated speech.
“Kanhaiya said in his celebrated speech Golwalkar met Mussolini. Did you check your facts, it was Moonje who met Mussolini,” said Paranjape.
“I am not saying they were not impressed by the fascist, they were. They thought it is a very good idea to have an authoritarian system,” he said, adding, “Please let us agree on what is factual and what is not.”
“Fascism stands for anti-democratic position and so does Stalinism,” said Paranjape while addressing the students at JNU.
“I am proud to belong to a country where one so called judicial murder created such a huge ruckus,” he added.
“Do you know how many judicial murders were committed from 1920 to 1950s in Stalin’s USSR,” he asked the gathered students, adding, “Seven hundred and seventy nine ninety nine thousand five hundred and fifty three. Almost a million and how many people were executed for criminal and civil charges? Only 34,000.”
Paranjape was speaking at the Speak-in at the administration block, the 15th of the edition.
What, however, stood out was that his speech was interrupted first by sloganeering by Kanhaiya Kumar and was also booed by some students in the audience, unlike other speakers who took a pro-Left position on the issue of nationalism debate. Paranjape was also made to face questions from the audience, again led by Kumar.
Speaking amidst a gathering which was either neutral or pro-Left, Paranjape still took on Kumar citing “misrepresentation” during his speech after his release from jail post the interim-bail.
Speaking on the topic “Uncivil wars: Tagore, Gandhi, JNU and What’s left of the Nation?” Paranjape said: “When we (JNU) consider ourselves to be a democratic space we should also ask ourselves if this is entirely true.”
“Isn’t it possible that this is a Left hegemonic space, where if you disagree you are silenced, you are boycotted, you are brow beaten, or … (at this point he was shouted at before Shehla Rashid, JNUSU VP had to stand up to ask the students to maintain order) but I love JNU too.”