Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday said that he was a proud “andolanjeevi”, a newly-coined term used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bid to criticise protestors, especially in the wake of the farm law protests.
“I am a proud andolan jeevi,” Chidambaram tweeted. “The quintessential andolan jeevi was Mahatma Gandhi.” He used the hashtag #IamAnAndolanJeevi.
Modi had used the term in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, terming protestors as a new category of people that “are like parasites who feed off protests”.
“They jump into all sorts of protests, whether it is by lawyers or students or workers,” the prime minister had said. “Sometimes they can be spotted, while on other occasions, they stay in the background. They are like parasites who feed off protests.”
A day after the usage of the term, farmers protested against it. Bharatiya Kaisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Takiat said Modi has never been in a protest and would not understand about “andolanjeevis”. The farmer leader pointed out that freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and even senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani were also protestors.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha also condemned the use of the term, reported The Indian Express. “No doubt Punjab’s contribution needs to be acknowledged but this andolan [protest] is of all farmers of this county,” Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union said on behalf of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha. “SKM condemns the PM insulting farmers by calling them andolanjivi.”
Pal said the farmers would like to remind the prime minister that it is because of the protests that India was liberated from colonial rulers, adding that the farmers’ were proud to be “andolanjeevis”.
Various other political leaders also spoke up against the term. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen national spokesperson Waris Pathan used the same hashtag used by Chidambaram. “Leaders don’t force people to follow,” Pathan said. “They invite them on a journey.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury raised questions on the use of the term, saying that people protest for saving their lives and ensuring better opportunities. “Protesters are patriots not parasites,” Yechury tweeted. “Those who grab power on the strength of protests are.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the prime minister over the term. “Curious about the PM’s remarks about ‘Aandolan Jeevis’,” he tweeted. “Wasn’t that a bit unkind to Baba Ramdev, Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare and their ilk?”
A number of people also welcomed the term. Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bengaluru Central PC Mohan called it the word of the year. “One who cannot live without protests and its members continually keep finding ways to stoke protests,” Mohan said.
Former Governor of Tripura and Meghalaya Tathagata Roy called the term “brilliant”. National President of BJP Yuva Morcha Tejasvi Surya expressed his happiness by using a smiley emoticon. “PM today adds new word to India’s political lexicon: Andolan Jeevi,” he tweeted.