The march was not organised by any single political party, though many with experience or background in student politics of one ilk or the other, marched. The vast majority, however, were students who had never marched before and had no experience of politics. The question therefore arises, what, if anything is the unifying ideology of this body of protestors? What goals motivate them? Above all, the question that is doing the rounds the most, on social media, on mainstream news and on the streets is what are the politics of the protestors? The question of politics is seldom posed directly. Its ubiquitous presence, however, can be clearly read in the answers provided regarding the nature of the march, the motivations of the protestors and the identity of the marchers. Unsurprisingly, diametrically opposite sets of answers emerge from members of the ruling party, inside and outside Jadavpur University; and the people who took to the streets on Saturday. From the Vice Chancellor, the Education Minister and officially ordained leaders of the ‘youth’, such as Abhishek Banerjee and Shankudeb Panda, characterisations emerge that focus on indiscipline on campus, presence of Maoist and other outsiders and deep conspiracies. From students of Jadavpur University and their sympathisers, assertions emerge that this protest is about justice and not about politics. Both characterisations fail to capture what is at stake.
[ Partial Translation: ‘Today it’s them, what guarantee is there it won’t be us tomorrow? To protest one does not need to be an insider or outsider. I had joined the march to fight against this tendency to divide. I will march again. In solidarity- Shubhrangshu Sarkar, Rupkala Kendra.]
[ Trailer of Film Adaptation by Q of 'Tasher Desh' Rabindranath Tagore's Visionary Anarchist Opera ]
2nd From Left: We want education in educational institutes, not lawlessness. Hiding behind guitars is a deep conspiracy.
5th from left: Alcohol and Marijuana are becoming scarce, the real reason behind songs of protest.
Source: Shankudeb Panda’s Facebook profile. Shankudeb Panda is the leader of the Trinamool Congress Student Organization
|Mod/Ganja (drinking and smoking marijuana) on Jadavpur Campus||Moral Policing of Behaviour/Character Assassination||A rejection of puritanical codes of behaviour/Aspirations for Freedom (see image of graffiti below)|
|Girls in shorts/girls wearing tank tops||Gender policing through slut-shaming and victim-blaming||Aspirations of safety of expression for women and de-sexualisation of the female body|
|Disrespect of elders/professors/ administrators||Authoritarian administration of student affairs||Democratic governance that includes student representation|
|#hokprotibad (let there be protest)Claims of protesting against student indiscipline||A command performance of protest, filling the streets with TMC constituents. Intended to capture the political capital of being a dissenter (protibadi)||#hokkyalano (let there be beatings) Hopes of beating into submissionautonomous student movements (I am indebted to TMC’s ‘youth’ and student leaders for providing this translation of their own actions)|
SUCH A LOT IS WON WHEN A SINGLE MAN SAYS A NOLife of Galileo, Bertolt Brecht, quoted by Riddhi Sen in ‘We The Young, We the Fighters’, an article in The Telegraph, Kolkata