After storming to victory in the Delhi assembly elections with an unprecedented 67 seats out of a possible 70 seats, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has now turned its attention to the Delhi University elections. With the decision that the party’s student wing — the CYSS(Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti) — would contest the elections was taken some months ago, the past few weeks have seen the campaign intensify, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal making an appearance at a CYSS event on Monday, signaling the importance of the elections.
The university elections in many ways reflect the challenges the Aam Aadmi Party faced on their entry to electoral politics with an attempt to create a niche for themselves, faced with two old adversaries — the ABVP(the BJP youth wing) and the NSUI(the youth wing of the Congress) largely trading power with each other. Senior party leaders say that while their seat tally in the assembly elections was “historic”, one of the primary objectives of the AAP is to reinforce the notion that they are here to stay.
To that end, the Delhi university elections assume immense significance: a loss would cast doubts on the durability of the appeal of the party, a win would symbolise the force they have now become in Delhi’s political space.
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During the campaign, at the very least the CYSS has made its presence felt, forcing the ABVP, NSUI, and other student organisations like the SFI and AIS to raise the pitch in their own campaigns. For the AAP, even if only university elections, these are also the first polls since the Delhi assembly polls and given the controversies that the Delhi government has found itself in since, this will be the first gauge of their popularity in the city.
Conversely, with the party at the helm in Delhi, the CYSS has been facing greater scrutiny than any other body contesting polls for the first time, with both the ABVP and the NSUI looking at this as a chance to dent AAP’s image.
Also important to AAP, is that they continue to hold sway among the youth in Delhi, something party leaders believe was instrumental in their Delhi victory. Students often formed the core volunteer base for constituencies across Delhi and if AAP are unable to create an impression in the DUSU elections, it will be seen as a disenchantment with the ideas that the AAP represents.
Given these factors, the Delhi University elections assume even greater importance for the AAP and the party has responded in kind, campaigning extensively, with senior leaders of the party even stationing themselves at college gates to welcome new students on the day Delhi University reopened. What will happen, remains to be seen.