Finally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited JNU on Thursday, albeit virtually.
It is an open secret that the BJP and the RSS have no love lost for the JNU and see it as a grooming centre of Left ideology; of late, it has also acquired a reputation of sorts in the saffron corridors – as a grooming centre of the anti-national ‘tukde tukde’ gang.
So, when PM Modi unveiled a life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda on the campus via video conferencing, the political message went beyond the virtual optics.
Unveiling the statue, Modi said students' hunger for ideas, debates and discussion, which had earlier found a vent in Sabarmati Dhaba, will now foster under the statue of Swami Vivekananda. (The Sabarmati Dhaba is a prominent site on the campus where students have registered their protests on a number of national issues, including many against the BJP-led dispensation).
Then, came the rider. He added that one should be proud of one's ideology but should not let it eclipse national interest.
"It is wrong to think only on the basis of one's ideology, which eclipses national interest. Everyone takes pride in his or her ideology, which is natural. But we should channelize our ideology in the line of national interest and not against it. This statue would instil in us immense commitment and intense love for the nation," the prime minister wished.
He added that if there is one thing which has "hurt the democratic set-up, it is the precedence we give to ideology over national interest.
He went on to say, if need arises, adherents of different ideologies should unite; he cited examples of the Indian freedom struggle and the Emergency to buttress his point.
"When one looks at the country's history, it will be observed that adherents of different ideologies came together under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi."
Likewise, during Emergency, the swayamsevaks of the RSS, the Jana Sangh, the Socialists and the Communists converged on one platform.
During his address, Modi also asked the JNU students to research and find out "how good reforms, considered bad politics earlier, have now transformed into good politics".
He reminded them how his government was targeted after it ushered in a number of "reforms" like the 2016 demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax, and now over the farm laws.
"The resolve is to make India better through reforms. The intention behind these reforms is good. A safety net is being created through reforms. The basic foundation of this safety net is confidence," he added.
The virtual event did not pass without its share of hiccups as the JNU Students Union had called for a protest at the varsity’s North Gate. To aggravate matters for the security personnel, a controversial poster was released by the JNUSU which called upon the prime minister to ‘go back.’