AIYF which is the youth wing of CPI and students’ union AISF, has taken up a national level “Long March”. The march, which started on July 15 at Kanyakumari, is ending on September 12th at Hussainiwala, Punjab. Under the slogan “Save India, Change India”, this march aims to visit all states and bring to light the anti-people’s policies of the NDA Government.
Kanhaiya Kumar is the former-president of JNU Student Union and is now the CPI party’s youth-icon. Thus, we can expect that he will be playing an important role during the march – visiting all states and addressing the youth. Ten days back, when the march reached Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh, Kanhaiya was also present. He had to go through Bangalore in order to return to Delhi.
A senior CPI member, Siddanagowda Patil told me – “Kanhaiya will meet some of his friends on Saturday night. We have arranged for his stay at the party’s office. On Sunday, based on his agenda of programmes, he will tell us when he can be free. You can come and meet him then.”
I told him “Okay”. Since I rarely get free time like this, I continued cleaning off the dust gathered in my house because of an on-going construction at a site nearby. I removed all the bedsheets in the guest room and put it inside the washing machine. The work was only half-done when I received a call from Kanhaiya. “I will be reaching Bangalore in two hours. Come to the party office”, he said. I replied asking, “But Siddangowda had told me that you will be meeting your friends and staying at the party-office.”
Gauri with her Manas Putra Kanhaiya
“No, No, I have to meet you first. Come”, he replied. Before leaving, I called up my friend Vishwas Shivpur and asked him if we could take Kanhaiya for dinner. Vishwas booked a table at Chancery Pavilion and told me that it was his treat.
I needed two hours to reach the CPI office from my home because of the Saturday evening traffic. But having reached there, Kanhaiya held onto his bag and insisted to stay over at my place instead.
The house wasn’t clean. Also, since the windows were undraped, anyone from the road could peep inside the dining room. Kanhaiya is already getting death threats. He hasn’t asked for police protection. Taking stock of the situation, I decided that taking him home would be a risk and told him to stay at the office for the night and come over the next day.
That night, Kanhaiya, his friend Dhananjay who was staying with him, Siddanagowda Patil, Vishwas, Nidhi, and I went for dinner. After going back to the office, I asked him what was his program for the next day. He replied saying, “I could have gone to Delhi tonight. But I wanted to stay with you tonight. I am not meeting anyone else.”
I told that I should call his brother, and I called Jignesh Mewani. But he couldn’t attend the call. I texted Jignesh saying “Your brother is with me. Call me.” I left from there as I did not get any reply after waiting for ten minutes. I was just about to start the car and I got a call from Jignesh. He said “You might be so happy, as if you were in heaven, now that Kanhaiya has come.” I asked him “Hey, why do you say that? I will be as much happy when you come too. Kanhaiya was tired. I am leaving him in his room. We will call you tomorrow, okay?”
I had cleaned my house by the time Kanhaiya came over the next day. Vishwas has invested in a salon closeby my house. I took Kanhaiya there and got him a haircut and got his beard trimmed. After having food, Kanhaiya and Dhananjay slept for a short while. I sat down reading something.
After having submitted his draft doctorate thesis a few months back, Kanhaiya was going to city after city, as if he had tied wheels around his feet. He is also waiting for his passport after having submitted the application. We called Jignesh as we drank tea in the evening. To really understand how much they are actually travelling around, one has to listen to their conversation.
Kanhaiya – “Lalla, How are you? Where are you?”
Jignesh – “I am in Ahmedabad. I will come to Delhi on the 10th.”
Kanhaiya – “But, I will be in Rajasthan on the 10th.”
Jignesh – “Oh. I am going to Kerala on the 11th.”
Kanhaiya – “But remember, we have to go to Punjab in September.”
Jignesh – “Tell me when you will be in Delhi. I will come there.”
Kanhaiya – “I want to take you to Bihar. I will tell you the date later. Wait, talk to your mom.”
Kanhaiya and I know the columnist Aakar Patel. I decided to drop Kanhaiya at the airport after having dinner at Aakar’s place. There we had discussions on politics, variety of issues in JNU, political conditions in Bihar, and others. At the airport, Kanhaiya said that he would be coming again on Friday. “I am going to stay at your place that time. Remember”, he insisted.
He came to Bangalore on Friday like he said. I took him to my home directly. Dhananjay started making tea. Pointing his finger at the door above, he asked me what was there behind the door. I answered saying that there is just the terrace and nothing else. “Let’s drink tea there. Open the door”, he said. After drinking tea, he went around the house. He looked at all the plants in the garden. “Your mom has constructed this house well. It is beautiful. I feel calm here. When will you come to Delhi?”, he asked me. I didn’t know but I told him that I would let him know when I do decide to go. I answered. He said that he was free for a few days after August 14th. “Two of my friends have a homestay in Himachal Pradesh. That place is great. Book your flight right away. I will take you there”, he insisted.
“Ayyo, I can’t. I have so much work till October. If possible, I will come in November. Try to free yourself before that and come. We will go somewhere in Karnataka itself”, I told him.
He asked me if there were any good beaches nearby. I replied saying that Gokarna and Malpe were good beaches. “If we go near Malpe, our friends G Rajashekhar, Phaniraj, Suresh Bhat Bakrabile, Shashidar Hemmadi, Shrinivas Karkal, Punith Appu will all be happy to see us,” I explained.
Pradyumna Alanahalli, Dayananda, Chandan Gowda, and Megha were to come home that night to meet Kanhaiya. While I was preparing salad, sandwich, and other things before they arrived, I heard water dripping in the kitchen. I thought that Kanhaiya might be drinking water in the kitchen. But when I went there, I realised that he was cleaning the floor.
On Saturday morning, there was an All India Convention on Student Struggles, a 2-day event. For this convention, a rally starting from the railway station was to be addressed by Nidumamidi Mutt’s Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamiji and Kanhaiya.
Before this program, I introduced Kanhaiya to senior human rights activist Nagari Babaiah. Babaiah on meeting him became so emotional that he told Kanhaiya,“You are our future” and hugged him. When Shivasundar, a friend, conveyed that there were many who were ready to protest against him, Kanhaiya was surprised and asked him why. Shivasundar replied saying, “That’s because, even though there are so many youths, Gauri calls only you and Jignesh as her Manasa Putras (ideological sons).” Kanhaiya laughed at that and joked asking Shivasundar, “Aren’t you forgetting another son Umar Khalid?”
I took him to Shikshakara Bhavan after his speech. Senior-writer Maralusiddappa was present there. When I introduced Kanhaiya to him, he said “Our time is done. Everything is on your shoulders now.” Kanhaiya replied to him saying that they needed inspiration from people like him. After the speeches of Anand Teltumbde and Anil Sadgopal, I left with Kanhaiya. At the door, we met Devanuru Mahadeva. I introduced Kanhaiya to him. But they could not talk to each other in the crowd. All of us went to Navakarnataka office. We chatted for a while there. While leaving in the evening, Kanhaiya hugged me and promised me saying “I will come to Bangalore soon again”.
By the way, in another two weeks, Jignesh will be here. Both of them are giving me son-strokes over and over again.
Written By – Gauri Lankesh, Karavali Karnataka, September 9, 2017
Translated By – Sudhamshu Mitra, Primary Editors – Monica Murali Kamath, Parth Shrimali