This is first-hand report of the public meeting in the Koyna hostel of JNU campus organized by the NSUI on the topic ‘Ideology, Student Politics and Challenges.’ I am a JNU Student and I covered the meeting with my camera and recorder sitting just two feet away from the three dignitaries [you can see my photo here; I have documented many aspects of JNU life].
Please note that I am not an NSUI member or a fan of any of the the three people here; I am a blogger from JNU and I have documented many aspects of JNU life. The place was packed like sardines and was bursting at the seams. You can see the size of the the Koyna hostel mess is by clicking here.There must be about 800 or 1000 people [the female population was about 50 per cent (or more?); JNU has a good sex ratio and Koyna itself is a girls’ hostel] and hardly anybody left during the meeting. The talks began at about 9.45 pm and the programme was over by 11.30 pm – talks, question-answer sessions, autographs, cheering [even jeering].
It was also a fun-filled evening for anybody who attended this meeting because there were laughs, smiles and “positive energy” everywhere in that huge hostel mess! No very serious political discussion took place took place [except in the Q and A after the speeches which became rather messy] and it was ‘See and Know the MPs’ more than anything else.
I have taken special care to highlight the humorous aspects of the meetings. Deepender Hooda, Sachin Pilot and Shashi Tharoor spoke in that order and it has been documented here in that order. Hooda, Pilot and Tharoor in their actual speech spoke for about 7 minutes, 13 minutes and 23 minutes respectively.
NSUI and the introduction to the meeting in Koyna hostel mess
The NSUI published a pamphlet in the JNU campus on the night of 29 August as a warm up to their JNU unit election[on 31 August 2009] and the three young MPs [including “Deependar,” a typo; the correct spelling is ‘Deepender’] were invited to address the JNUites in Koyna hostel mess of the JNU campus.
I was at the venue by 9.20 pm and it was clear that there was going to be a truly huge gathering of both the fair and not so fair sex. Fortunately it began by 9.45 pm IST because all the MPs were on time! Celebrity MP Shashi Tharoor was signing autographs and entering the Koyna hostel [see pic on the left] simultaneously! 😀
A JNU girl [a mallu girl in all probability] introduced the speakers rather zealously and it was crystal clear that she was an ardent supporter and fan of Shashi Tharoor. Initially the JNU students including me were surprised by the tone, tenor and content of her enormous eulogy but it looked normal after a minute when we adjusted to her style.
Shashi Tharoor and other MPs looked visibly impressed and palpably happy by the overwhelming response [Shashi Tharoor was not even trying to hide his ‘ear to ear smiles’ and looked fairly content and confident throughout the meeting; I was sitting just two feet away from him]! Hooda even said that he had no inkling of this sex ratio or else he would have been more choosy with his clothes! Deepender Hooda, for your information, is going to be betrothed in a few days! The empty spaces in the photo on the right were fully filled up when the meeting began and there was not a speck of vacancy! The MPs were certainly surprised to see such gathering in the JNU – the left’s bastion!
Hooda says ‘Hi’ and people laugh! Taking cue he says ‘Namaste, Ram Ram Bhaiyon aur Behenon!’
Deepender Hooda, the young MP from Rohtak who “gave up a luxurious life for the heat and dust of Haryana”, began his speech with a ‘Hi’ that sounded more like Haai! Hooda’s ‘Hai’ was cheered by a thunderous laughter and echoing Hi, Hi from the public and if I am not incorrect even Sachin Pilot had smiled! His voice was slightly soft and people were not expecting the Haryana Jat lad to kick-start things with that stylish Hi! 😉
You can hear or download Hooda’ s speech by clicking here [other audios may be uploaded later].
Hooda took only a few seconds in recovering and in the next two minutes out of his seven minutes of speech enthralled the public. He said ‘Namste Ram Ram’ and people lapped it up! 😀
His phrase “Bhaiyon aur Behenon” [brother and sisters] again drew thunderous applause [the menfolk were more kind in clapping here because in popular opinion the girls had mostly gathered to see the handsome young MPs ;)]! Hooda began in Hindi and continued in English. The following line was again enjoyed like anything by the JNU public:
“Had NSUI told me that we will be surrounded by such beautiful women I would have put more gel in my hair!”
Hooda in the later part of the speech went on to compare the Congress and the Left. During the question answer session he intervened to answer a question relating to dynasty politics in India and painstakingly explained that if it were all about pedigree only, he would have not have won the Rohtak seat for a second time by a record margin of about 4.5 Lakh votes! You can visit Deepender Hooda’ s website here [it’s not updated though].
“Having said that’ is Hooda’s favourite phrase in my analysis!
Addendum: AISA in its dinner pamphlet in JNU campus on 29 August 2009 has, among other things, criticised Hooda and NSUI saying “he is a patron of honour killings of young couples.” “Sentiments and local customs of Khaap panchayat must be understood” was the remark of the CM’s son to a TV channel according to the AISA pamphlet!
Update 15 Sep 2009: Also read Aasthi Bhartia’s first hand report on the Pickle Post: A Soft Spoken Haryana Politician
Sachin Pilot addresses the JNU campus
Sachin Pilot’s speech was more political and social and was filled with praise for the Congress and the NSUI. He spoke a lot on the democratic functioning of the Congress and the student wing of the party and why the Congress was the most suitable party to lead the nation.
He urged the ‘young people’ to come forward and join the Congress and NSUI to change the country.
The last few minutes of his speech were in Hindi and his response to an intervention during his speech drew great applause. He said this while suggesting to the speaker that he will answer all his questions:
Mic agar neta ke haath me hai to rokna bada bhari hota hai!
The young MP from was Ajmer also very vocal in answering some questions after the meeting and vociferously defended his government and the Congress party. You can follow Sachin Pilot on Facebook if you are his fan.
Shashi Tharoor says he belongs to the Britney Spears school of public speaking
When the NSUI anchor invited Shashi Tharoor to speak after mentioning, among other things his academic feat of achieving a PhD degree at 22, the house clapped for a full 18 seconds welcoming him and an overwhelmed Tharoor started his speech with a ‘Thank you’ in his strong, baritone voice: “Positive energy is all here; you are fantastic to be with!”
Tharoor said he may belong to the Britney Spears school of Public Speaking – as Britney Spears says to the guys in her life, I shall not keep you long – and he would not want to inflict a long speech on the audience to which the audience obviously disagreed with a loud ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO’ sung in unison! Shashi Tharoor said this inviting roaring laughter from the JNU students:
“..after hearing the two excellent speeches by Deepender and Sachin I kind of feel like I’m going to be Britney Spear’s seventh boyfriend here!”
In his 23-minute speech, Tharoor, among other things, elaborated why he ‘chose’ the congress party and did not mince words while criticizing the Left parties [including calling in question their stand on the Tiananmen Square massacre and their attempt to “keep enough people poor so that they vote for them”]! He also remarked that the left is pitted against development and growth and were against the introduction of computers and mobile phones in India!
Tharoor remarked that he used to say to the Americans who were proud of their ‘melting pot’ that we Indians are a ‘Thali’ ,we belong together on the same plate and then combine on your palate to give you a satisfying taste [*thunderous applause*]!
The rhetorical speech was full of social and political references to India and ‘Indianness.’ Tharoor lamented that 70 per cent of our population was poor according to global standards and we Indians need to work towards poverty alleviation and the Congress was working towards that goal. He urged the youth and the middle class to consider politics as a ‘means to the end of a better India’ and stop seeing it as a profession of those who are not able to do anything else in life! He also urged people to join the congress and the NSUI in the campus. He said he would welcome the questions from the JNU community and knows “his answers will also be questioned in JNU!”
This is what Shashi Tharoor writes about the meeting on his Twitter profile where he has more than 50000 people following his tweets!
“JNU was amazing, 1000+ students packed into hall, sweat pouring, grt energy in the room & lots of cheers+qsns 4 Sachin, Deependr Hooda & me; We each spoke of our political beliefs &took tough qsns on evrthg frm poverty2reservns. Hope we encouraged a few to join NSUI &Congress”
You can click here to visit Shashi Tharoor’s official website.
The din of the Question Answer Session
Ek anar sau beemar! Frankly with that kind of crowd, you can’t have a successful Q & A session! What is more JNUites [both Professors and students] often make long speeches even while asking questions! Almost all the questions were opinions rather than direct questions [a few were designed to trouble but the strategy backfired].
The young lady on the left began confidently but took a very long time and public patience was certainly low! She called in question the Congress government on the Palestinian massacre issue and India’s military deal with Israel and the Sachhar Committee Report among other things [and drew heavy applause].
Shashi Tharoor replied to her and thundered that India has nothing to be ashamed on Palestine because India is one of the greatest supporters of Palestine and was one of the first to recognize it and has even gifted it an embassy in Delhi! As far as the cooperation with Israel was concerned it was different matter and should be seen in a different light. He made the quip that the govt. in Kerela was importing “bull semen” from the same country – Israel!
About 35 minutes of the Q and A session was a terrible din with NSUI activists navigating their way with mic in the squashed up place! Many including me could not ask questions! I had planned to ask two questions: Why do MPs always wear the boring Pyjama Kurtas and not bright coloured T-shirts in the parliament and whether Mr. Deepender Hooda was planning to have a simple marriage ceremony with minimum expenditure and conspicuous consumption thereby setting an example before the Indian society where marriages are mired in dowry, pomp and show?!
JNU MCA students also tried to meet the MPs. You may click here to read that the JNU administration has unjustly given very harsh punishment to 21 MCA students in the campus!
Shashi Tharoor’s autograph’s photo
All the three MPs were mildly hounded for autographs and the NSUI activists definitely found it a disturbance. Young girls and boys holding Tharoor’s books, blank papers and notebooks queued up to the desk [their eyes glinting with hope] and Tharoor was only pleased to oblige.
Sachin and Hooda were also popular [Sachin was not carrying a pen and I gave him mine while somebody in the crowd forwarded me a notebook for his signature! If I were a celebrity, I would have always carried my own autographs in my pocket [like visiting cards] and given it to those interested in taking them! Feel free to print and flount Shashi Tharoor’s autograph below and don’t forget to thank me in the comments section! I do not like Hero worshipping and I just shot a pic of it from someone.
Click these links for more on JNU from me
Click here to read and see how JNU Holi is celebrated. Click here to see the JNU caves. Click here to see the JNUMC River Rafting trip documentation. Click here to see all the posts on JNU on this website [including JNU political wall posters, Arundhati Roy in JNU etc. Click here to visit the Official website of JNU.Click here to read my experience of a meeting with Rahul Gandhi.