The vitriolic reaction to actor Deepika Padukone's visit to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) proves that the government's supporters are behind Sunday's masked mob attack, former JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar said today at a protest in Delhi.
Kanhaiya Kumar also tore into Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar for his barb, without naming Deepika Padukone, on "great personalities" supporting protesters but not students and teachers deprived of their rights.
"Deepika Padukone campaigning for Prime Minister Narendra Modi was deshbhakt (patriotic) but when she came to JNU she became a deshdrohi (traitor)," said the former JNU student leader-turned-politician, referring to the actor being made an ambassador for a government campaign.
Deepika Padukone's move to visit JNU in solidarity with students injured in the mob attack caused a firestorm and sharply divided social media. Support for the actor pushed back against calls for boycotting her new movie "Chhapaak".
"She said nothing, didn't shout slogans, didn't take any names. She was silent, she met the injured students and left. Now they are saying they won't see her film. I wondered, she didn't name any party or any ideology or slogan. Then why not see her film? Then they concede that government's supporters are involved in the JNU violence," Kanhaiya Kumar said, as his audience at a protest near Mandi House in central Delhi cried "shame".
He then took on the Vice Chancellor for remarks seen to target Deepika Padukone.
"I would like to ask all those great personalities coming to support agitators, what about thousands of students and teachers who are deprived of their rights of doing research and teaching? Why can't you stand with them," Mr Kumar told news agency ANI.
Seizing the comments, Kanhaiya Kumar quipped: "Deepika Padukone is not the Vice Chancellor of JNU...you are."
He said it was the Vice Chancellor's job to meet students and teachers. "It is like saying you cannot buy your own car. But when the neighbor buys one, you say the colour is bad."
Deepika Padukone is among the ambassadors for ''Bharat Ki Laxmi'', a government scheme to highlight the achievement of India's women ahead of the Diwali festival.
After her visit to JNU, the actor was at the receiving end of immense criticism from members of the ruling BJP including Tajinder Bagga, who urged people to boycott her film.