Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel at the rally in Rajkot, Wednesday. Chirag Chotaliya

Former president of students’ union of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, alleging that they created a futile debate about patriotism to divert attention of people from real issues and said that the duo had tarnished the prestige of Gujarat by creating an atmosphere of lies and deceits.

Addressing a public rally at Shashtri Maidan here after taking out ‘Samvidhan Bachao, Desh Bachao’ (Save the Constitution, Save the Nation) rally from Civil Hospital Chowk to Shashtri Maidan, Kanhaiya said that he was booked for sedition to kick off a debate on patriotism and anti-nationals and thereby divert attention of people from important national issues.

“Didn’t the Delhi police know that they need permission from the Delhi government to file chargesheet against me in the sedition case. Whom are you befooling? You never wanted to charge me nor did you want to seek requisite permission. The real issue is that in my name, in names of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani, sloganeering and JNU, you wanted to create a futile debate of patriots and anti-nationals so that people forget that the same Prime Minister had promised them that he would credit Rs 15 lakh in their bank accounts. They allege I spoke against the country. If that is the case, are you eating dhokla in Delhi? Why don’t you jail me?” said Kanhaiya. Kanhaiya was booked for sedition for allegedly raising “anti-national” slogans on JNU campus in 2016. The Delhi police had filed chargesheet against him last month. The 32-year-old leader from Delhi also accused Modi and Shah of tarnishing asmita (prestige) of Gujarat. “The identity of Gujarat being a peaceful and harmonious state, where truth and non-violence prevail and it being a progressive and improving state has been replaced by one of lies and deceits. He is (Modi) going street to street, telling people one lie after the other to become Prime Minister one more time,” said Kanhaiya.

The rally and the public meeting were jointly organised by former Congress MLA Indranil Rajyaguru, Rashtravadi Yuva Manch and Dalit Adhikar Manch. The rally was also addressed by Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel and Vadgam Independent MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.

Incidentally, posters in the city with Kanhaiya’s picture were blackened. But the student leader said that, unlike Modi, Shah and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, he had a clean face, which can’t be blackened.

Hardik, who is also facing two sedition cases arising out of his agitation seeking quota for Patidar community in the state, underlined that they were neither traitors nor anti-national as no court had pronounced them guilty. “We are not opposed to Narendra Modi and the BJP. But our opposition is because they reneged on their promises and dreams that they had shown to people. When one does that, we cannot sit cross-legged,” said Hardik.

Addressing the rally, Mevani said that the turnout has proved that nobody is afraid of Shah and Modi in the state. “The revolutionary youths, elders, sisters and mothers who have thronged here from all parts of state and especially Rajkot have proven that nobody in Gujarat, Saurashtra and Rajkot are afraid of Modi and Amit Shah. The youth of Gujarat have proven that there is victory after conquest over fear,” said Mevani. Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Kanhaiya and Hardik said that they have not decided yet if they would contest the Lok Sabha elections due in a couple of months. However, Mevani said that he does not intend to contest the elections but added that he would campaign for the polls by raising issues like education, health and unemployment.