The ABVP said the visit was not associated with the JNUSU polls scheduled on September 14, other students’ organisations called it a “blatant display of power” while North Eastern students were abused and denied entry.
What does one make of the power display shown at JNU campus where chief ministers (CMs) of three North-east states – Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh attended an event organised by RSS- affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP.)
Late on Tuesday night, Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Pema Khandu (Arunanchal Pradesh) and N Biren Singh (Manipur) participated in a talk on ‘Ishan Uday: Bridging the Heart.’
It was seen as a cheap trick before this years Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) elections. It came with its own set of controversies as protests by North-east students demanding a dialogue with them littered the event.
Though the ABVP said the visit was not associated with the JNUSU polls scheduled on September 14, other students’ organisations called it a “blatant display of power”.
“The event was a part of our discussions around Ishan Uday (the rise of North-east). We wanted JNU students to know about these states which have been neglected by the previous Congress government,” Saurabh Sharma, member of ABVP’s central working committee, said in a report by Hindustan Times.
All three CMs that addressed some 200 students were all praises for BJP and how governance was better under their rule than it ever was under Congress.
“When Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal started his address, a group of students raised slogans against the implementation of the ‘citizens’ amendment bill’. Replying, he said, “The National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) is very important as its aim is to differentiate between legal and illegal citizens of the country. It’s a matter of national security and nothing can be more important than that,” reported HT.
The CMs’ visit drew criticism from other political groups at the campus. “The visit of three elected CMs at a mess event speaks volumes. It clearly shows the ABVP cannot even win a campus election without the intervention of its parent party,” said AISA president Sucheta De in the report.
“ABVP members said more political figures are likely to attend such events ahead of polls. “We are planning to organise a talk on the SC, ST and OBC forum soon and will invite more big names. This election is very important in view of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” a member said in the report.
Students from North-east at JNU alleged they were “abused” by ABVP members during the event, were denied entry and an opportunity to speak to their CMs. The ABVP denied the charges, calling it political instigation by the opposition Left groups.
“While escorting the CMs to the hostel mess, ABVP members shouted slogans like “Bangladeshi ghuspethiye murdabad” and “Indian Army zindabad” with many students from the northeast standing around holding placards that mentioned Assam floods “communalisation” of NRC draft, “saffronisation” of education and demanded rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” reported Times of India.
The report by TOI said that an Assamese student wanting to speak with the CM said that she was not allowed to meet them and was called a Bangladeshi sympathiser and Naxalite by ABVP members. Other students alleged that they tore their pamphlets and placards while telling security guards to not let students carrying placards inside.
ABVP was accused by other student organisations of flaunting their “proximity to power”.
On Tuesday, former Congress minister P Chidambaram gave a talk on ‘Myth of development under the Modi regime’ on campus, organised by NSUI. CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was also called by SFI for a talk last week.
“However, other organisations like AISA and DSF said inviting elected representatives was a “blatant display of power”. “The ABVP-RSS-BJP clearly does not trust its leadership and activists to win a debate in JNU. It has, therefore, resorted to campaigning like it is a state/Lok Sabha election,” said DSF secretary Pratim Ghosal in a report by Indian Express.
In the report, Sucheta De, AISA national president, said, “If three CMs are coming to campaign, it talks a lot about the kind of money, mantri power they are engaging in.” However, ABVP JNU president, Vijay Kumar, said there was nothing wrong with what they did. “If the Left and others can call their leaders, why can’t we call three or even 50 chief ministers?”