Mumbai: JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar on Saturday came down heavily on the Narendra Modi dispensation, terming it a "Government of selfies and jumlas" as he pushed for enactment of a law to prevent caste-based prejudice in educational institutions.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President who hit headlines after being arrested on charges of sedition in the aftermath of an event at the JNU campus where alleged anti-India slogans were raised, went hammer and tongs against the NDA-led Centre and its pet projects.
"The Modi government is coining only jumlas (idiomatic expressions) such as Make in India, which should actually be Fake in India; Stand Up India, Start Up India, Selfie with Daughter etc. It has become a government of selfies and 'jumlas'.
"The reality is these are only tall promises by which the government is fooling the public as nothing positive was coming off the ground," he said.
The 29-year-old was speaking on the topic 'Student-Youth Assembly Against Discrimination' at an event in suburban Tilak Nagar.
Kumar said at a time when entire Marathwada region in Maharashtra was reeling under drought, "RSS-led government" was busy holding IPL matches in the state.
"I heard a wax statue of Modiji has been carved out. I also heard a 12-year old girl in Marathwada died as she ventured out to fetch water in scorching heat. Let that wax statue of Modiji be put in Marathwada," he said.
Kumar, on his first visit to the metropolis after being granted bail in the sedition case, also touched upon issues related to Mumbai during his 50-minute speech mixed with sarcastic jibes and hard-hitting words.
He said the government should pay some attention to improve commuting in suburban trains, which are usually overcrowded leading to death of passengers many a time.
The JNU leader said it was high time "Brahminical system" was rooted out and an egalitarian society established in the country.
"I am not against Brahmins or any particular caste. But I am against social structure built around Brahminical system and Manuvaad. I want an end of this system and its replacement by Babasaheb Ambekar's vision (of casteless) society," he said.
He slammed those who were asking Muslims to prove their nationalism and trying to determine the food habits of the countrymen.
These issues are being seen with an eye on the next year's Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Kumar pitched for a new law, 'Rohith Act', to stop caste-based discrimination in educational institutions, a demand made in the wake of suicide by Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University in January.
Kumar ridiculed the much-hyped bullet train project and
sought to know who will travel on the high-speed rail network "in a country where unemployment is rampant".
He took potshots at Modi over his pre-2014 general election promises of bringing back blackmoney stashed abroad and creating large-scale jobs.
"Modiji promised to give Rs 15 lakh to everyone (from black money to be brought to India) and to create employment opportunities for two crore people every year. But I ask Modiji, what happened to your promises? Contrary to this, people are losing their jobs. They don't have money. Who will ride on your bullet trains," he asked.
The event was jointly organised by Students' Federation of India (SFI), All India Students' Federation (AISF), Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and All India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO), among others.
Other prominent student leaders who were present at the meet included Richa Singh (President of Allahabad University Students' Union), Shehla Rashid (Vice-President of JNU students' Union) and Nachimutti (President of FTII Students' union).
They pledged to defeat fascist forces and uphold the secular and republican characters of Indian Constitution.
Former Judge B G Kolse-Patil, social activist Teesta Setalvad and noted documentary filmmaker Anand Patavardhan also shared their views and criticised the "institutionalised murder" of Rohith Vemula. They said the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra were mere "tools" of RSS.
The students and youths of the country "were not ready" to give the nation into the hands of "right wing" forces, they said.