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Student politics: Is JNU going through a DU-isation and vice-versa

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By Sagar Sethi

‘Neither Hindi nor English, friends I know only one language, and that is the language of Movement!’ says DSF’s Lenin Red in his presidential speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Established in 1969 JNU, also known as the Lal Burg (Red Bastion), is today more colourful than before. The student politics in JNU is determined to unfurl its rainbow flag and further the freedom struggle of India’s Queer Movement. Its red bricked walls at the same time seem slightly saffron hued.

INDIA - OCTOBER 24: Election graffiti at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, October 24, 2006 (Photo by Vivek Singh/The India Today Group/Getty Images)
INDIA – OCTOBER 24: Election graffiti at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, October 24, 2006 (Photo by Vivek Singh/The India Today Group/Getty Images)

JNU has always been a Left stronghold. But can it keep its politics aloof from the emergence of saffronised politics at the national level? Last year RSS students’ wing ABVP increased its councilors’ share in JNU’s student union to 40%, clarifying the arrival of ‘Modi Leher’ in JNU. Although CPI(ML)’s student-wing AISA retained all four posts of JNUSU’s Central Panel, the language of politics is slightly drifting from progressive issues dealing with queer independence and gender justice to more immediate student issues; like installing Wi-Fi gardens, more Wi-Fi routers and especially more hostel rooms.

ABVP’s National Secretary Rohit Chahal said, “I think now the students are fed up with the policies of the Left in JNU. The Left groups don’t talk about immediate student issues while ABVP has always struggled to emphasize these issues.”

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The crisis of hostel accommodation has been looming in the campus for too long now. “The hostel crisis benefits AISA’s politics,” ABVP Activist Mukesh says. This provides the ground for Left organizations in JNU, he further says, to network with the huge mass of desperate students who need a room to crash in after their classes. On the other hand, this ‘Room Lo, Vote Do’ exchange academically benefits the student community as well. More they interact among themselves, more refined their ideas become. Just like in Plato’s ideal society where political interaction is quintessential for conceiving the idea of ‘ultimate good.’

The overarching concern in JNU is that the ‘progressive politics’ of this campus has to be saved.  AISA’s activist Shehla Rashid is more than just concerned about the extreme de-politicization of her campus in the wake of ABVP’s ‘money-power’ based politics. “We are trying to save our feet here,” she says.

When asked what JNUSU was doing about this, she says ‘Modi leher was at its peak, when we contested him.’ ‘We went to Benaras, and further when Modi came to power that AISA in Delhi University received more than ten thousand  votes – the most  that a Left party has in the last decade.’  Interestingly, last year AISA’s vote share in DUSU’s election did increase from 3,000 to 10,000, while ABVP retained all four posts of DU’s Central Panel on its home turf.

jnuSo does the rise of ABVP mean that JNU will be DU-ised, while a more visible AISA makes DU more JNU-ised? Former JNU President Akbar Chaudhary explains the sudden rise of Left politics in Delhi University when he says –“People were fed up with the Congress government, and desired a change. If these people are given any alternative other than BJP, they would go for it. Like AAP’s clean sweep in Delhi.” Likewise when DU’s student community is provided with better options than ABVP and NSUI, he further says, it would abandon them both.  Under such circumstances, the entry of Aam Aadmi Party’s youth wing, CYSS (Chattra Yuva Sanghrash Samiti) in the DU student politics could prove to be that alternate.

Almost three weeks away from its Students’ Union elections, the scramble for power in JNU resumes. Overall, while shifts in its language of politics seem a matter of concern in itself, the sudden DUisation of JNU poses a bigger threat to its ‘progressive politics.’ These forthcoming elections will decide what ‘Of JNU, By JNU and For JNU,’ stands for!

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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Now Keen to Develop Young Leaders

The first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi

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RSS, Leaders, BJP
The RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders. Pixabay

With most senior leaders in the BJP having retired from active politics, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Later this month, the RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders.

According to a senior RSS functionary in Lucknow, the first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi, possibly on June 29 and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be attending it. Another camp is scheduled to be held in Lucknow.

“After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, there seems to be a dearth of second rung leadership in the bhBJP. There is a need to develop leadership that will carry forward the work initiated by these two leaders.

“Rajnath Singh is a senior leader, but his age is 67. He would have crossed 70 by the time the next general elections are held in 2024. We have to identify and inculcate leadership qualities in the younger lot,” the functionary said.

RSS, Leaders, BJP
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Pixabay

He further said that identifying young talent that could be groomed for greater responsibilities was a continuous process in the organisation and it never stopped.

“It is not a sudden decision but the RSS leadership always has a vision for the future and thinks ahead. We keep finding young people with leadership skills,” the functionary added.

Earlier this month, the RSS chief had underlined the need for checking misuse of power at a four-day camp that he addressed in Kanpur.

“Those getting elected in a democratic set-up have immense power, but this does not mean that it should be misused. If the government falters at any point of time, the Sangh will give it advice and suggestions with a positive point of view,” he had said.

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The RSS chief had also discussed the topics of nationalism, social equality and service in his interaction with over 600 volunteers. He also focused on qualitative development of the Sangh volunteers and apprised them of his views on dedication towards society.

The RSS leadership is also expected to come to Lucknow for a separate camp at the end of this month. In Lucknow, the RSS leaders will pay homage to senior journalist Rajnath Singh Surya, who passed away earlier this month. Surya was also a senior RSS functionary.

Officially, however, the RSS office bearers said that they had yet to receive any programme of Bhagwat and said that such camps were a ‘routine affair’. (IANS)