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Students’ politics comes of age

The results of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) polls were announced last weekend and the desktop analysts were quick to shout from rooftops that the victory of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was an outcome of influence which Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi wields over nation’s youth. The ABVP this year had gone to polls allowing Modi space on their posters alongside Swami Vivekanand. This is probably first time in the history of Vidyarthi Parishad that they have considered a living person a youth icon of the same degree as the founder of the Rama Krishna Mission. However, for the spin doctors to convert the victory into an evidence of Modi’s influence would be turning a blind eye to a bigger and much graver political development taking place in the lanes and by-lanes of the national Capital.
The results of the DUSU showed a phenomenal rise in the performance of All India Students Association (AISA), the student outfit of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, which is the inheritor of the legacy of the Naxalbari movement. DUSU polls over the years have been direct contest between the ABVP and the Congress-affiliate National Students Union of India (NSUI). The Left and Socialist groups did participate in the polls from time to time but never posed any serious threat to the two main political outfits.

AISA started to contest DUSU polls sometime in the 1990s and has consistently worked towards increasing its influence. The results of the polls held on last Friday saw AISA presidential candidate Anjali from Hindu College getting 8229 votes — over 16 per cent of the total votes polled and improving on last year’s figures by more than the double. Except for their candidate for the post of secretary, all other panelists managed to get over 6000 votes, which is very remarkable given the fact that AISA doesn’t follow the ‘populist’ campaign methods. AISA also, like earlier years, swept Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union (JNUSU) polls, which were held on the same day.

While the AISA office-bearers have claimed that their campaign against the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) has been responsible for their rise, but those who follow the activities of fringe political groups would vouch that rise of AISA has been concurrent with the rise of the activities of the other front organizations of the Naxal outfit in the national capital region, which despite some differences with more radical CPI (Maoist), works in of coordination with such ultra groups.
For the past few months especially after the 12-day-long fast held by Anna Hazare at Ramlila Grounds, the AISA and its sister organizations have recognized the potential of public movement in the national Capital. They actively participated in the Anna movement too in the initial phase. The mass protests against the rape on a moving bus of the paramedic student last December was largely organised by the Liberation cadres.

Kavita Krishnan, the face of the 16 December rape case protests, is a former president of the JNUSU and presently heads the All India Progressive Women’s Association, again an outfit of the CPI (ML) Liberation. She graduated to the present position coming through the rank and file of AISA. The guerrilla like siege which these public protestors have successfully laid around the residences of the prime minister, home minister and chief minister point towards the fact of they having infiltrated the rank and file of several other outfits. If one looked for evidence of their increasing presence on the campus, the torching of a police vehicle during the DUSU poll campaign last week bears testimony. The activists of the NSUI and ABVP are too scared of the cops to indulge in the audacity of torching their vehicle. Five students sympathetic to AISA were later arrested for the act. According to the police, the incident happened when it was trying to take a student to hospital after his condition deteriorated due to a hunger strike. When the van moved towards the hospital, a student jumped in front of the van and was injured. Thereafter the other protestors torched the police gypsy of Station House Officer (SHO) of Maurice Nagar police station and raised slogans against police.

While discussing on the rise of the Maoist influence, one also cannot ignore the arrest and detection of a large number of their cadres and sympathisers from the national Capital since taking of ideologue Kobad Ghandy into custody in 2009. The Maharashtra police, along with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Delhi Police Special Cell recently searched at the residence of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.

The wheel-chair bound teacher is a joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convenor of several forums against anti-Naxal operations. The search was in relation to the Hem Mishra case in Gadhchiroli district of Maharashtra, where Mishra was arrested for alleged Maoist links. Mishra is a former student of JNU.

According to security experts, unlike AISA, the level of involvement of RDF is much higher. The evidence of the infiltration by the similar organizations in the workforce around the national Capital is visible in the violent murder of the corporate honchos in Noida and Manesar over the past few years. Such brutal murders inside factories in Noida and Gurgaon shows involvement of radical elements, feel the experts.

Thus the apologists for Gujarat chief minister should find time from their celebration to analyze the real reasons for ABVP’s sudden return to power on DU campus. They result is indicative of a much deeper change in the political contours than the way it has been presented. The chances of a Narendra Modi having propelled rise of AISA is very remote.

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post
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