NEW DELHI: In politics, nothing happens by accident. The debate Cultures of Protest to discuss people’s ideas of India turned violent at Delhi University’s (DU) Ramjas College last week, with students at each other's throats. The Left, which has lost its steam in campus politics, is eyeing this opportunity to change the dynamics of student politics in the national capital.
The Left includes All India Students’ Union (AISA) and Students’ Federation of India (SFI). The two have failed to impact DU’s student electorate. AISA got just 8,000 votes in the Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) elections and the Student Federation of India (SFI) drew just 3,000.
Though SFI has seen a two-fold increase in its membership since 2014, it has never seized power in DUSU in the last two years. SFI has 4,000 members, up from 1,500 three years ago. RSS-backed Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has 7,000 members and the Congress’ National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) has 5,000. DU has 15,000 students from eastern Uttar Pradesh.
While AISA never conducts membership campaigns, 100 students join it each year, especially women. In last year’s elections, AISA got 10,000 votes.
Also, Left-leaning student wings are making their presence felt in DU by garnering support in North Campus from teachers across St. Stephens, Miranda House and Kirori Mal College. Most are from the Department of English and Theatre Society.
“RSS has not been able to mobilise more than 500 students in Thursday’s march in North Campus. SFI and AISA are gaining more and more support from DU. The rally was attended by over 1,500 students, teachers and alumni of DU. The event was dominated by women students,” said Prashant Mukherjee, Delhi president of SFI and research scholar at the Department of Social work, DU.
The march indicated AISA and SFI are taking large strides in DU against ABVP. “We have always been tortured by ABVP and its goons. From the strength of our march, it is clear that students are with us. After the incident in Ramjas College, students from the college and even foreign students are helping us fight ABVP,” said Kawal Preet Kaur, president of AISA and a student at Law faculty, DU.
The student wing of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also accused ABVP of violence. “ABVP has been practicing violence on the campus for long. It is about time students’ anger comes out,” said Anmol Panwar, Delhi convenor of AAP’s student wing Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS). “We will not take part in any agitation or protest organised by any political party. Our campaign will be focused only on the agitation by students.”
ABVP has three seats in DUSU, while NSUI holds the seat of Joint Secretary. With ABVP losing one seat in the recent elections, it is on the back foot.
While for ABVP, the controversy might be fuel for the last phases of the Uttar Pradesh elections, the Left is looking at a chance to turn the tide in their favour in DU.
“The current dispute gives political advantage to both ABVP and Left parties. While for ABVP it is just the Uttar Pradesh elections, AISA and SFI are looking at this as an opportunity that is helping them in the states they are in power and to gain ground in DU’s student politics.