On Thursday, 28-year-old Fairoz Khan was sworn in as the president of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the first Kashmiri to hold the position. From Banihal, gateway to the Kashmir Valley, Khan started his political career in the same college as senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad — the Government Degree College in Bhaderwah. Azad was on stage, as Khan took oath on Thursday.
He was elected college president in 2006 and subsequently, the district president in 2008. Post this, he became part of the NSUI and began working for the party at the national level. “There is a big gap in leadership in the country and the youth feel alienated from politicians. There is a lacuna that the NSUI will fill by going to every district in every state,” Khan told The Indian Express.
On his birthday, two days ago, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi expressed the hope that Fairoz will take the NSUI “from strength to strength.” On meeting Gandhi, Fairoz said, “He asked me about my vision for the NSUI and the country. We spoke for over 40 minutes and I told him that my vision is to have one Congress leader in every district.”
Members of the Congress’ student wing crowded his office to pass on their good wishes for the new president.
Between handshakes and bouquets, Khan emphasised that the higher you go in an organisation, “your responsibility increases and that keeps you grounded”. After a national application process, Khan made the final list of seven candidates interviewed by Gandhi. “We talked extensively about the Kashmir crisis and the aspirations of the youth there,” Khan added.
On the state of the party’s leadership, Fairoz said that there is “no option” but to elevate Gandhi to the position of party president this year. He said Gandhi is a leader way ahead of his time. “The issue with him is that he tells the truth,” he claimed.
Fairoz plans to enhance his engagement with youth and increase the presence of the party through out the country.
“Political parties engage with a very small number of students, may be 10 per cent. My intention is to engage with hundred per cent. Congress will have a leader in every nook and corner.”