February 09, 2016. This was the date when a boy from Begusarai in Bihar, one of the most backward and prejudiced against states in the country, brought up in the reality of poverty and non-existence of privilege, the then President of the Student Union of one of the top universities of the country, was put behind bars on the accusation of sedition which allegedly involved shouting anti-national slogans.
It is true that very often, people are pushed into the limelight and positions of leadership because of their circumstances. But it is also true that very few of those people actually build themselves and become great leaders in life.
Four years down the line and a lost election later, two things have happened to Kanhaiya Kumar. One, he has not been proved an anti-national, and two, he has emerged as one of the greatest young leaders in India—proof being, his fiery speeches, passion for azaadi (freedom) and Forbes India including him in their 2020 list of leaders to look out for.
Kanhaiya Kumar is someone you want to believe, to support and stand with you. When he holds a dafli in his hand and shouts out slogans of freedom from poverty, unemployment, discrimination and the countless other evils present in our society, which are being conveniently ignored by the establishment, for a long time, it feels like all hope is not lost.
In today’s time of troubling economic and political conditions, where citizens who were earlier afraid even to question the very government they elected, are now standing up, taking their voices to the streets and making their questions heard, it seems like Kanhaiya is the guiding light. Not the only one, but one of the brightest and clearest for sure.
Making his mark as not only an educated, intellectual and accepting politician, he actually comes across as a good human being. A common man, born and brought up in humble poverty, who has worked hard to get an education and never broke down in hard times of his life.
Not only politics, but he is also a great example of how to overcome failure, to think and question critically and to stand with and for what is right—whether it is speaking for farmers, marginalized communities, education for all or questioning the undemocratic actions of the government.
Of course, questions as to whether Kanhaiya Kumar has never done anything wrong if the ideology he stands for is completely morally correct and feasible cannot be answered with surety, but neither can such questions be answered for the hundreds of other politicians in the country.
It doesn’t matter whether he is wearing chappals or a leather jacket when Kanhaiya Kumar starts speaking, he makes sense, he brings forth accountability, he is always up for a joke on himself, never hesitates to use humour to catch attention. He leaves the impression that if in a position of power, he would be foremost in bringing much-needed societal, economic and political change in the nation.
Ironically, the young, unestablished leader whom the government falsely accused and put through unfair struggle forcefully, is a force that this very government needs to reckon with today. In more ways than one, Kanhaiya Kumar is an inspiration for the youth, a beacon for Indian politics and a dangerous sign for the ruling party.