Ever since his release from jail after he got bail from Delhi High Court, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar has given nearly 70 interviews to different national and international media outlets. 

At ScoopWhoop, we decided to do it differently. 

We invited questions from our readers that they wanted to ask the student-leader-turned-youth icon Kanhaiya Kumar. From his idea of student activism to his alleged misbehavior with a girl in JNU last year, Kanhaiya spoke on a number of issues. 

Here’s how he replied to your questions 

Did you always want to become a student politician or were you inspired to become one? (Asked by Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor)

You can say that I formally joined politics when I was in college. Even though I didn’t understand politics at that time, but I knew it was politics. 

Watch the video of interview here

I used to fight for issues like absence of teachers from the class, raising questions on harassment of girls by some blue-eyed boys and asking the principal about the lack of books in the library.

Do you think what you are doing is still student activism or you think you have reached a level where you talk on national issues?

I think this is student activism. I have an example of Bhagat Singh before me who rose against British rule while being a student. His resistance became an international issue at the time. Issues are always connected.

b’JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar during an interaction with ScoopWhoop | Source: ScoopWhoop/Sumit Tharan’

Only youth and students in the country have the strength to understand these issues and raise their voices against it. And the raising of this voice is purely student activism, irrespective of whether an issue is of a national or an international one.

When you returned to the campus after you got bail you gave an electrifying speech. How do you do that? 

JNU completes a building process of an individual. When you enter JNU, you get an introduction to the whole world. 


This is the only campus where you get to know about different international cultures, languages, religions, identities, discourses and ideas. That widens an individual’s thinking. After that you assimilate content and then everybody presents it in his/her own way.

But how do you practice? Isn’t it rare to speak so articulately for 55 minutes? 

JNU witnesses protests every other day. I think it’s the speciality of JNU, rather than mine. Or you can say with the kind of backgrounds, families and society we come from, it’s not a mere fashion or political tactic for us to speak on poverty and farmers. 

I am not a politician’s son, whose speeches a poor farmer would not relate with. I come from such a family that when I talk about the soldiers of this country, poverty and farmers, people relate to me because that is my reality.

When are you completing your Phd? (Asked by Nirahua Dehati)

I have some two to one-and-a-half-year period left in my research. I have to submit my thesis in 2018.

What are your views on Congress & BJP? (Asked by Nitin Jajoo)

The issues on which Modi was elected to power, Congress was handling them better than BJP. It was functioning as a welfare state. But this does not mean that speaking in favour of the Congress makes me a Congress supporter, or vice versa. 

In a certain sense you are talking about a revolution in terms of how our thoughts need to be different. Do you think you can say the same thing if you join a political party? (Asked by Richard Anderson)

I am a student that’s why I raise students’ questions. When I’ll become a teacher, I’ll raise the questions of teachers. And when I become a politician, then I’ll raise questions of the entire society. It’s a question of fixing responsibility. Currently, I am not a member of any political outfit, which means my responsibility hasn’t been fixed yet. 

b’Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar (2nd from right) with former JNUSU Presidents at JNU campus in New Delhi | Source: PTI’

Modiji’s vision is not to work for 125 crore people of this country. If that would have been the vision he wouldn’t have been talking of Hindu Rashtra.

So what do you think is Modi’s vision?

Modiji’s vision is actually a vision of RSS. And RSS’s vision is originally the vision of Hitler’s Germany. What was the vision of Hitler’s Germany? It was one nation, one party and one leader. 

We need to criticize this. This criticism is not due to some personal animosity with Modi. Modi is the Prime Minister of the country and I am asking him this question as a student. 

What kind of politician is Modi? Is he a good politician? 

What I am saying is that if Modi would have been addressing all those issues on which he was elected, I wouldn’t be protesting against him.

If he would’ve deposited Rs 15 lakh in my account, I would have been shouting in his support. If daal was priced at Rs 20 per kilo, again I would have been shouting in support of him. 

They failed to deliver what they promised to do. This is why we are opposing him. After knowing all of this, if anyone considers him a good Prime Minister then that person is more a Modi bhakt than a citizen of this country.

How do you perceive Rahul Gandhi?

For us, at this time, what matters is the serious threat for JNU. You can see how attempts are being made at character assassination and also how anti-women these attempts are. 

b’Cards with various messages hanging by a rope as students agitate for the release of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and other students charged with sedition, on Jawahar Lal Nehru University campus in New Delhi | Source: PTI’

There’s no need to think of Rahul Gandhi at this time. 

Do you think India is moving backwards with these kinds of thoughts?

People say the rule of injustice doesn’t stay for long, but for some time the pace of society’s growth stops. It does go backwards for some time. 

Education has given us a chance to come out of this. 

Why are they still calling you anti-national?

In law, the word of anti-national doesn’t even exist. 

In Hindi, word sedition means Raajdroh and what will be the opposite of that? Raj Bhakt (Nationalist). If they become Raj Bhakt then they won’t gain in the elections. That’s why they used the word Desh ka Gadaar (Traitor). Only then they can prove themselves as Desh Bhakt.

You are 29 and still doing Phd?

It’s not Bhagat Singh’s time, when we were a colony. I want to say to all those people who present this question, that this is not Bhagat Singh’s time that I would be executed at the age of 23.

The fact that people have taken up a job at 22 doesn’t mean I would also take up one. Doing a Phd is also work. Research is also a job, this is why we are given stipend. 

b’Supporters of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) walk in front of a banner featuring Kanhaiya Kumar, a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student union leader accused of sedition, during a protest demanding the release of Kumar in Kolkata, India | Source: Reutersxc2xa0′

Everybody has a separate job and role in a society. You can’t ask Lata Mangeshkar to play cricket and ask Sachin Tendulkar to sing. 

Those who think the subsidy money is getting wasted, shouldn’t rely on the parameters of Modi Bhakti but on the results and system of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). And that NAAC has defined JNU as the best university. This means the subsidy money is being spent at right place. 

And where is it being wrongly used? It’s being wrongly used with people like Vijay Mallya, who took the country’s money and went to London.

What’s the craziest theory you have heard about yourself during the current crisis?

First was my twisted statements against army, according to which I had said the Indian Army is a rapist. I am saying that I respect the army and obviously a citizen of this country will never respect a rapist. I hadn’t even used the word army in my speech. I used the word security personnel. There are different kinds of people in security.

Today, there’s another level of character assassination against me. It’s being said I had misbehaved with a girl. I am saying how can one misbehave with a girl in JNU?

But weren’t you fined Rs 3000 for that?

There is a different context to that and it has been presented in a very different manner. There are lot of questions about that like: there was no hearing, no inquiry, there’s also a question on the letter also.

Five people you are inspired by?

My Mother, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nehru, PC Joshi, Jyotirao Phule & Bhagat Singh.

b’JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar addresses students after reaching at the JNU campus upon his release on bail, in New Delhi on Thursday | Source: PTI’

Internationally, Che and Gorky. And some few more people have started to inspire me during the last few weeks.

Did you get one of those ‘Mera Yaar Kanhaiya’ T-Shirts?

No I didn’t. I am still waiting. For whom will I wear that?

Maybe for Umar and Anirban?

Yes, but the slogan will be something else. Like some people said when they heard that I got bail they started shouting “Jail ka taala toota hai, comrade Kanhaiya chootha hai“, then they started “Kanhaiya to jhaanki hai, Umar Anirban baaki hai“. 

The kind of outpouring against your arrest was unmatched. Why don’t we see it in the case of Umar and Anirban?

This is the government’s conspiracy. I have been saying it repeatedly. They know students will return to normal after sometime. So they smartly use delay tactics. Remember the kind of outpouring in the case of FTII initially? It was huge but after six months, they brought back Gajendra Chauhan. 

This government is witch-hunting students.

Feature image source: ScoopWhoop/Sumit Tharan