New Delhi/Patna: JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday won accolades from non-BJP leaders for his rousing 'azadi' speech in which he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they asserted whatever he said is true and he was more nationalist than those levelling sedition charge against him.
29-year-old Kumar's 66-minute speech laced with wit and sarcasm last night on his return to JNU campus after he walked free from jail three weeks after his arrest, however, did not go down well with the BJP with Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu saying he was "enjoying free publicity". Naidu also said students in universities must study rather than getting involved in politics.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar backed Kumar's assertions of freedom from poverty and intolerance and said the "talented" youth leader was more nationalist than those levelling charge of sedition against him.
"The speech given by Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU after his release from jail is very effective ... Whatever he said is true," Nitish told reporters at Patna Airport.
"Kanhaiya Kumar said we do not talk of freedom from India but freedom in India and demand independence in this regard," Nitish, who is a senior JD(U) leader, said.
"Kanhaiya Kumar put forth his views like there should be freedom from hunger, poverty and intolerance," he said and hailed the JNUSU President for putting his views effectively.
"These prove that our new generation has a lot of capability. The coming forward of such a talented student and youth will strengthen the roots of democracy in the country," he added.
Kanhaiya was slapped with sedition charge for allegedly raising anti-national slogans during the protest against the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on his third death anniversary last month.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who tweeted "What a brilliant speech by Kanhaiya" as the latter was speaking last night, today said, "I told you several times Modi ji (Prime Minister), don't mess with students. Modi ji did not pay heed."
"Heard Kanhaiya's speech many times. Amazing clarity of thought expressed wonderfully.He said what most people have been feeling.God bless him," he tweeted.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the speech was "testimony" to the fact that JNU students are demanding the creation of a better India and that they are the "foot soldiers" protecting the secular and democratic character of the Indian republic.
Congress' Ashwani Kumar said his party has been maintaining that Kanhaiya did not utter anything anti-national at any point and yesterday he made it more clear through the speech.