From a predominantly male bastion to inducting more and more women into their ranks, protesting ‘anti-national’ events to taking up student issues, they have become the dominating force of student politics at Delhi University in the last three years. This is Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad 2.0.
The student outfit has been at the forefront of almost every issue in the university. In 2015, they protested against a play on communal violence by SGTB Khalsa College as they found it “anti-national and anti-Hindu”. But the student body also took up the case of law students, who were not allowed to write exams because of low attendance. In the protests at Delhi University over the past two days, women — who for many years were mostly missing from protests and marches organised by ABVP in DU — have been at the forefront.
The sloganeering went beyond the standard Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai, with many chanting slogans such as “Afzal ke in yaaron ko, ek jhatka aur do’, ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, joote maaro….’ and ‘Khoon bhi denge, jaan bhi denge’.
At the helm of the protests were DUSU vice-president Priyanka Chhawri, former president Satender Awana and Ramjas College students’ union president Yogith Rathi.
Chhawri (23), a first-year MA Buddhist Studies student, said, “In the past five years, the number of women who have come out in support of ABVP is very high. This is because of constant efforts by the party to connect with students, by reaching out to them in colleges and classrooms. We have also consciously projected ourselves not just as a party that stands for the rights of students but also as a nationalist force.”
Talking about the change in the way they protest, Chhawri said, “If we can pick up some good things that we see in others, it is a step in the right direction.”
The student outfit won all four positions in the DUSU elections in 2014 — after a gap of 14 years. They repeated this feat in 2015. In 2016, three of the four positions went to the party.
“ABVP has become the strongest student outfit in the country over the past two to three years and this is primarily because we have gained tremendous support of students. In DU, we have stood with students in every little problem they faced. Not that this wasn’t the case before. Our network, however, has grown stronger,” said Saket Bahuguna, national media convener, ABVP.
He was earlier the state secretary of the unit and has studied at DU as well as JNU. Rejecting allegations of violence, he added, “This is a bogey that the Left parties are raising because of our growing popularity. They are scared and can only resort to lies. We stand for the nation, not violence.”
Awana, who was the DUSU president last year, is a very active ABVP member. The 24-year-old is a first year law faculty student.
Rathi (21) is a Ramjas College student, enrolled in History (honours), one of the most prestigious courses in the university.
It was Rathi who first went to the college principal and teachers to protest against JNU student Umar Khalid’s participation in the seminar on Tuesday. “This is a movement that started because students at Ramjas had a problem with Khalid’s participation. We came into the picture only because of them,” said Rathi.