The Students’ Activity Centre at JNU also known as the Union Office was so far a meeting place of elected student representatives of the Students’ Union. The quaint office holds portraits of many political figures, mostly from the left. In the recent years however, the ABVP installed portraits of freedom fighters and national icons which became an eyesore for the left. In this context, the desecration of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s portrait that ABVP installed in the complex became yet another statement of rightful assertion in the campus. The left as usual vandalised the portrait, smashed it to the ground and discarded it into a dustbin, thus relegating one of India’s most powerful icons into a trash bin. Like clockwork the propaganda machinery of the left started ticking, churning out baseless and false narratives.
Not surprisingly, the left has a history of eroding national icons. In 2018-19 they smeared anti-Hindu slogans along various roads in JNU calling for the expulsion of Hindus and inciting violence against them. In 2019 the statue of Swami Vivekananda was desecrated and hateful slogans were written. In 2020 a signboard bearing the name of V D Savarkar was vandalised and the posted of M A Jinnah was pasted over it. The left has also targeted Hindu Gods and Goddesses in a wanton fashion.
It is indeed surprising that the left adores political figures who have a history of sheer violence and megalomania and yet they have issues with the installation of glorious leader, Chhatrapati Shivaji.
However, it must be realised that assertion by the nationalist forces has turned out to be a grim reminded to the left, that its days are over. The inability to goad students to support them in the face of shrinking support, facing a resurgent right and ever-increasing frustration among the ranks of the left pushes them to commit such acts.
Little do they realise that such activities do not earn them any mileage. For years these groups have engaged in such activities as despite being in the Union they have failed to produce any positive concrete outcome. The inability of the left to reinvent itself except for the usual sloganeering and engaging in vicious political propaganda gains them nothing, hence such acts are a desperate measure to somehow survive within the discourse avoid complete elimination.
On an end note, the world has witnessed a lot since the heydays of global communism and the collapse of the former USSR. The left in India seems to have learnt nothing from these episodes. They have failed to understand that national icons like Chhatrapati Shivaji resonate with the general populace of India unlike foreign political figures. In a bid to counter their political opposition, the left has repeatedly engaged in such delinquent acts which has rendered them even more ridiculed. Unfortunately, it will be too much to expect from an ideology which is an anathema to popular democracy.
(The writer is Research Fellow at ICWA)