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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Campuses abuzz with poll talk: Debates, banners & streetplays drive campaign

E-rickshaws are plying with banners of different candidates; ‘I support Modi for PM’ and badges of ‘Rahul Gandhi for inclusive growth’ are being distributed.

New Delhi | Published: April 7, 2014 1:58:58 am

It’s the last leg of campaigning in Delhi before the Lok Sabha polls and campuses across the city are in the grip of election fever. With students’ unions rallying support for their parent parties and candidates in constituencies around colleges, campaigning among students, debates, discussions and streetplays are being organised almost daily.

In Delhi University (DU)’s north and south campuses, candidates are actively campaigning with students, including AAP’s New Delhi candidate Ashish Khetan, and Northeast Delhi candidate and former JNU professor Dr Anand Kumar.

Banners of Congress candidate from Northeast Delhi J P Aggarwal have been put up at students’ “hangouts”, for example near the DU Metro station and at Kamla Nagar market.

E-rickshaws are plying with banners of different candidates, and “I support Modi for PM” and badges of “Rahul Gandhi for inclusive growth” are being distributed at Metro stations near university areas.

ABVP members say more than promoting the BJP, they are campaigning for Narendra Modi and exposing the economic policies of the UPA government. “We are doing this through 700-800 streetplays we have conducted in the last two weeks to engage students, distributing pamphlets and T-shirts at Metro stations and markets like Lajpat Nagar and Kamla Nagar, where students hang out. We want to conduct over 1,000 streetplays before voting day,” ABVP national secretary Rohit Chahal said.

Students’ unions and department unions in different colleges are also organising debates. A member of an union at St Stephen’s College, which is seeing many such debates, said, “If you saw in our debates after the Assembly polls, the overriding sentiments were in AAP and Arvind Kejriwal’s favour. Now, however, students seem to be disillusioned with this new party. More and more students are vouching for Narendra Modi. There is a lot of criticism of the BJP and I doubt any student knows the BJP’s Northeast Delhi candidate Manoj Tiwari, but they speak highly in favour of Modi as PM.”

The ABVP is “actively campaigning in traditional Left bastions” like the JNU campus and student communities, who stay in nearby areas like Munirka, which are not BJP strongholds. “We are targeting areas where the BJP’s vote share was less than 10 per cent in the Delhi Assembly polls, and going around Metro stations in peak hours when we can meet a large number of students,” JNU ABVP’s organisation secretary Anand Srivastava said.

In IIT-Delhi, a section of students have launched a ‘support for Modi’ group and started a Facebook page called ‘IITians support Modi’. The group, with over 400 members, states in its ‘about me’ section that they do not support the BJP but support Modi for the post of prime minister.

JNU is witnessing hectic campaigning, with a section of students and professors campaigning for former sociology professor and AAP candidate Dr Anand Kumar, distributing pamphlets quoting his writings on the Janlokpal movement and his credentials as a student leader in JNU and in Banares Hindu University before that.

Meanwhile,the All-India Students’ Association (AISA), affiliated to the CPI(M-L), plans to go for door-to-door campaigning to “expose” Modi and campaign for the policies of the Left.

“We will go to Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and, of course, campaign in JNU. We will distribute pamphlets and hold public meetings to convey our message,” Akbar Choudhary from AISA said. The outfit is also organising film screenings, debates and seminars across South Campus colleges.

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