The Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) registering a victory in the students' union elections in the Delhi University resonates much beyond the campus in the national capital. While it has finally given the Congress some reason to cheer, there may be some lessons for the BJP as the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) tasted defeat after a gap of four years.
While the NSUI won the posts of president and vice president, the ABVP won the posts of secretary and joint secretary in the students' union. Soon after the results were declared, Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken tweeted that the victory reflected the confidence that the students had placed on party vice president Rahul Gandhi's leadership. He went to the extent of connecting the win to Rahul's speech at the University of California, Berkeley, saying the students heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi address students on September 11, and Rahul the following day, and reposed their faith in the latter.
“The youth has accepted the Congress wholeheartedly and has rejected the ideology of the RSS,” said Maken. He also referred to the victories of NSUI in the Punjab and Rajasthan universities. The victory was projected as a rejection of the Narendra Modi government and also as a pointer to a decline in his popularity amongst the youth.
It is said that the DU, with around 80 colleges in its vast campus, and students from all over the country, gives an indication on what the country is thinking politically. And it is for this reason that the DUSU win comes as a morale booster for the Congress, which has not tasted victory, as least in Delhi, since its defeat in the Assembly elections.
However, in NSUI's victory, there are some lessons for the Congress to learn. The students' wing of the Congress began its campaign early. It carried out an aggressive online outreach called #takebackDU. It promised a peaceful atmosphere on campus, a reference to the violence and chaos that was witnessed over the nationalism issue. It kept its campaign low-profile, which was in contrast to the high decibel campaigning carried out by the ABVP. The NSUI also targeted the ABVP over alleged misuse of DUSU funds.
A major point of discussion at the meeting of the Delhi BJP's state executive last evening was the outcome of the DUSU election. The party might want to look at what went wrong in the last few months for the ABVP. The right-wing student's organisation has been at the centre of controversy in the recent past, accused of creating disturbance on the campus in the context of the nationalism debate. ABVP members were accused of violence and vandalism at Ramjas college as they protested the inclusion of some speakers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in a seminar. The organisation was also criticised for its alleged online bullying of DU student and Kargil martyr Gurmehar Kaur over the stand she took on relations between India and Pakistan.