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Kanhaiya Kumar

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Kanhaiya Kumar
Kanhaiya Kumar.jpg
BornJanuary 1987 (1987-01) (age 34)
EducationCollege of Commerce, Arts and Science, Patna (BA)
Nalanda Open University (MA)
Jawaharlal Nehru University (PhD)[1]
Political partyIndian National Congress (from 2021)
Communist Party of India (until 2021)

Kanhaiya Kumar is an Indian communist who served as the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union and leader of the All India Students Federation (AISF). He served as National Executive Council member of Communist Party of India.[2] He joined Indian National Congress on 28 September 2021.[3]

Early life and education

Kanhaiya Kumar at a Times of India (media) event (2016)

Kanhaiya Kumar was born in January 1987,[4] and brought up in the village of Bihat (near Barauni) in Begusarai district, Bihar.[5][6][7] The village is part of the Teghra constituency, known to be a stronghold of the CPI.[8] Kumar's father is Jaishankar Singh. His mother, Meena Devi is an Anganwadi worker. He has an elder brother, Manikant, who works as a supervisor with a company in Assam.[9] His family members have traditionally been supporters of the CPI.[10]

Kanhaiya Kumar studied till Class VI at Madhya Vidyalaya, Masnadpur, before joining R. K. C. High School in Barauni. During his school days, Kumar took part in several plays and activities organized by IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association), a left-leaning cultural group going back to the days of India's freedom struggle. He cleared his Class X board exams in 2002 with a first division. After school, Kumar joined the Ram Ratan Singh College at Mokama, taking up science in Class XI-XII.[4] He then graduated with a degree in geography from the College of Commerce, Arts and Science, Patna in 2007, earning a "first-class".[11]

Political career

While at the Patna College of Commerce, Kumar began getting involved in student politics.[12] He joined the AISF, and a year later was selected as a delegate at its conference in Patna. After completing his post graduation with an MA in sociology from Nalanda Open University in Patna, again securing a first class, he moved to Delhi and after ranking first in the entrance exam in 2011,[13] joined Jawaharlal Nehru University where he pursued a PhD in African studies at the School of International Studies.[14] He completed his PhD in February 2019, titled The Process of Decolonisation and Social Transformation in South Africa, 1994-2015.[15][16]

In September 2015, Kumar became president of the JNU students' union, representing the AISF.[17]

In March 2016, Kumar stated in an interview, "the first inspiration who made me want to join politics was Bhagat Singh. Then the path continued into Ambedkar, Gandhi and Marx, and also to Birsa Munda and Jyotirao Phule...."[18]

Kumar's autobiography, Bihar to Tihar: My Political Journey was published in October 2016. The book describes his life from his childhood days to his political involvement in Delhi.[19]

On 29 April 2018, he was elected to the party national council of the Communist Party of India (CPI).[20] Later in 2019, he was inducted into CPI national executive council.[21]

2019 Lok Sabha elections

Kumar contested from Begusarai on Communist Party of India's ticket for the 2019 Indian general election.[22] He lost the election, polling a total of 269,976 votes and 22.03% of vote share. He secured a distant second position after losing to Giriraj Singh of Bharatiya Janata Party by 422,217 votes. About his defeat, he told Aaj Tak in an interview, "I didn't have anything directly to lose in these elections. I got support from the people for fighting against a big, rich and influential machinery and this is a message from democracy that a son of an Anganwadi worker can contest elections."[23]


JNU sedition row

In February 2016, Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested by the Delhi Police over the charges of sedition in an event at the JNU campus. It was organised by JNU students to commemorate the second anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Kumar denied shouting any slogans against integrity of the country.[24][25] Kumar's arrest drew sharp reactions from opposition parties, teachers, students and academics. Students at JNU went on strike to protest his arrest.[26]

Kumar was assaulted on multiple occasions when brought to the Patiala House court for hearings regarding the matter.[27][28] A Supreme Court-appointed panel later confirmed that the policemen present at the Court were responsible for the security lapses.[29]

On 2 March 2016, Kumar was granted interim bail for 6 months by the Delhi High Court, conditional on an undertaking that he would not "participate in any anti-national activity."[30] Justice Pratibha Rani noted that there were no recordings of Kumar participating in anti-national slogans.[31][32] A separate magisterial investigation appointed by the Delhi Government concluded that it did not find any evidence of Kumar participating in anti-national slogans.[33]

Following his release from jail, Kumar faced death threats. A leader of the BJP's youth wing offered 5 lakh as a reward to anyone who cut off Kumar's tongue.[34] Posters were put up in New Delhi offering 11 lakh as a reward to anyone who killed Kumar.[35][36]

Speech on campus

On 3 March 2016, Kanhaiya Kumar gave a speech to a packed auditorium in the JNU campus, during which he said he was seeking, not freedom from India, but freedom within India. He appealed to his fellow students to free the nation from the clutches of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which, he stated, was trying to divide the nation. Referring to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, he called them his "opposition", not his enemy. He urged his supporters to keep raising the slogans of Azadi (freedom).[37][38][39] The speech won accolades from the leaders of non-BJP parties as well as independent commentators.[40][41][42][43] Shashi Tharoor commented that it turned Kumar into a "nationwide political star," and congratulated BJP for creating this phenomenon.[44] Some people also expressed concern that his speech did not address "the graveness of alleged anti-national slogans" shouted at JNU and what he did to stop them.[45]

Other incidents and controversies

On 8 March 2016, speaking at an International Women's Day event, Kumar referred to the rape of Kashmiri women committed by personnel of the Indian Army. This was criticised as being "anti-national" by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). The BJYM filed a complaint against Kumar and JNU professor Nivedita Menon, alleging them of making "anti-national" statements.[46] A sedition and defamation case was filed against Kumar in a civil court in Patna.[47][48]

On 10 March 2016, it was revealed that in October 2015, Kumar was fined by the JNU administration for "misbehaving" with a girl student and "threatening" her.[49][50][51] Kumar had allegedly been urinating in the open in June 2015 and became abusive and threatened the female student who objected against his behavior. The AISF stated that the case was an attempt to defame Kumar.[52][53][54]

On 10 March 2016, Kumar was manhandled and abused on the JNU campus by a man who accused him of being a deshdrohi (transl. traitor). This incident came two days after Kumar made a speech on International Women’s Day, during which he accused Security personnel for raping woman in Kashmir. However,while addressing students later in the day, Kumar said such incidents couldn't scare him.[55]

On 28 March 2016, Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena threatened to storm the JNU campus and gun down Kumar and Umar Khalid unless the two left Delhi by 31 March.[56]

On 29 March 2019, Kumar who was contesting the Lok Sabha polls as a CPI candidate was booked for violation for model code of conduct of elections.[57]


  • Bihar To Tihar: My Political Journey[58]
  • The Process of De-colonisation and Social Transformation[59] in South Africa, 1994-2015

See also


  1. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar's PhD done, he wants to be a professor". The Times of India. 15 February 2019.
  2. ^ Bureau, NH Political (22 July 2019). "Kanhaiya Kumar elevated to CPI's top decision-making body". National Herald. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Cricket brat and school debater". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  5. ^ "With No Assurance of Caste Votes, Can Kanhaiya Kumar Keep BJP at Bay in 'Leningrad of the East'?". 4 September 2018.
  6. ^ Chenoy, Kamal Mitra (5 March 2016). "How Kanhaiya Kumar went from 'anti-national' to freedom icon". Daily O.
  7. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar's Family Objects To Mayawati's Remarks Against Him". Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  8. ^ Anuja (16 February 2016). "JNU row: Who is Kanhaiya Kumar?". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  9. ^ "JNU sedition case: Meet the family of the student who is a 'danger to Mother India'". The Indian Express. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  10. ^ "JNU row: How Kanhaiya Kumar became president of JNU Students' Union". Daily News and Analysis. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar PHD: Latest News, Videos and Photos of Kanhaiya Kumar PHD". The Times of India.
  12. ^ Roshan Kumar (19 February 2016). "His college remembers a fiery speaker". The Telegraph. Kolkota. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  13. ^ Sebastian, Kritika Sharma (10 March 2016). "My mother is my biggest inspiration: Kanhaiya". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  14. ^ "JNU row: How Kanhaiya Kumar became President of JNU's students union". dna. 15 February 2016. Archived from the original on 17 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  15. ^ Ibrar, Mohammad (15 February 2019). "Kanhaiya Kumar's PhD done, he wants to be a professor". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  17. ^ Nandi, Kathakali (14 September 2015). "Left, Right, Left". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Interview: Kanhaiya Kumar on the 'Natural Alliance' of Ambedkarites and Leftists - The Wire". The Wire.
  19. ^ Singh, Vandana (21 November 2016). "Angst Of An Azaadi Seeker". Outlook. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar joins CPI's national council, Sudhakara Reddy unanimously re-elected as party's general secretary". Firstpost. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  21. ^ Joy, Shemin (21 July 2019). "Raja new CPI Gen Sec, Kanhaiah in National Executive". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar to contest from Begusarai, to face BJP's Giriraj Singh - Times of India ►". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  23. ^ "कन्हैया कुमार ने की आजतक से बात". India Today Social on YouTube. Retrieved 25 May 2019 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ Iyengar, Rishi (15 February 2016). "The Arrest of a Student Leader at a Top University Reignites India's Intolerance Debate". Time.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: JNUSU chief Kanhaiya Kumar's interrogation report accessed". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  26. ^ Burke, Jason (15 February 2016). "Protests to continue at Indian university after student leader's arrest". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  27. ^ "Sedition case against JNUSU president: Lawyers, BJP MLA take law in their fists". The Indian Express. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  28. ^ "Lawyers attack arrested JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar in Patiala House court complex". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  29. ^ "JNU sedition case: Video is out; Kanhaiya Kumar assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover". The Indian Express. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  30. ^ Mathur, Aneesha (2 March 2016). "JNU row: Kanhaiya Kumar gets 6-month interim bail by Delhi HC". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  31. ^ "JNU row: Kanhaiya Kumar gets bail and a lesson on thoughts that 'infect… (like) gangrene'". The Indian Express. 3 March 2016.
  32. ^ "Delhi HC gives Kanhaiya Kumar bail quoting Bollywood song and calling slogans an 'infection'". 2 March 2016.
  33. ^ "JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar gets clean chit in AAP government appointed probe". The Economic Times. 3 March 2016.
  34. ^ "Bounties, death threats: BJP mounts full-scale attack on JNU's Kanhaiya". Hindustan Times. 6 March 2016.
  35. ^ "Shoot Kanhaiya Kumar, get a reward of Rs 11 lakh: Posters in Delhi". Hindustan Times. 5 March 2016.
  36. ^ "Arrested for Posters Offering 11 Lakhs for Killing Kanhaiya Kumar".
  37. ^ Sebastian, Kritika Sharma (3 March 2016). "We want freedom in India, not freedom from India". The Hindu.
  38. ^ "Full Speech: Kanhaiya Kumar, Out On Bail, Speaks Of 'Azadi' On JNU Campus".
  39. ^ Team, DNA Web (4 March 2016). "'Azaadi, azaadi': Kanhaiya Kumar gives fiery speech mocking Modi govt, Sangh Parivar at JNU campus". DNA India.
  40. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar wins praise from non-BJP leaders for 'Azadi' speech". Deccan Chronicle. 4 March 2016.
  41. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar's comeback speech at JNU evokes massive praise". 9 March 2016.
  42. ^ "Kanhaiya's fiery comeback speech is a massive hit". Rediff.
  43. ^ Varadarajan, Tunku (6 March 2016). "Reverse swing: The beauty of sedition". The Indian Express.
  44. ^ "Opinion: Congratulations, BJP, On Creating The Kanhaiya Kumar Phenomenon".
  45. ^ "Steel city says yes to azadi & no to hype". The Telegraph. Kolkota.
  46. ^ "Kanhaiya in a fresh spot over "anti-national" remarks". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 9 March 2016.
  47. ^ "Sedition case against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar in Patna court | Patna News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  48. ^ "BJP 'worker' files complaint against Kanhaiya Kumar in UP". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 11 March 2016.
  49. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar was fined by JNU for alleged 'misbehaviour' with girl student". The Economic Times. 10 March 2016.
  50. ^ Correspondent, dna (11 March 2016). "Kanhaiya Kumar was fined by JNU for alleged 'misbehaviour' with girl student". DNA India.
  51. ^ "Kanhaiya Kumar was fined by JNU for 'misbehaviour' with girl student". Deccan Chronicle. 10 March 2016.
  52. ^ "Kanhaiya faced University action for 'misbehaving' with woman last year". 11 March 2016.
  53. ^ "JNU's Kanhaiya Kumar accused of misbehaving with a female student | India News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  54. ^ "Kanhaiya had misbehaved with girl student who asked him not to urinate in open on JNU campus". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 10 March 2016.
  55. ^ "Kanhaiya manhandled, abused in JNU by man who wanted to 'teach him a lesson'". The Indian Express. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  56. ^ "Will storm JNU, shoot Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid before Durga Ashtami, threatens UP Navnirman Sena". Zee News. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  57. ^ PTI (29 March 2019). "Kanhaiya Kumar booked for violation for model code of conduct of elections". ThePrint. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  58. ^ "From Bihar to Tihar: Read an excerpt from Kanhaiya Kumar's story, where he recounts entry to JNU - India News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  59. ^ Feb 15, Mohammad Ibrar / TNN / Updated; 2019; Ist, 18:51. "Kanhaiya Kumar's PhD done, he wants to be a professor | Delhi News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 September 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

Further reading

External links