With Chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur set to land at JNU for a public talk on Tuesday night, several students gathered outside the venue for a protest, with placards that read ‘Roll back citizenship amendment bill’. The visit is part of campaigning for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union elections, to be held on September 14. The ABVP — which invited Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Pema Khandu (Arunanchal Pradesh) and N Biren Singh (Manipur) for a talk on ‘Ishan Uday: Bridging the Heart’ — was accused by other student organisations of flaunting their “proximity to power”.
The talk came 24 hours after JNU’s election committee announced its schedule for polls. Traditionally, elections in JNU are preceded by student organisations calling leaders from their parent political parties for public meetings and talks on campus. On Tuesday, former Congress minister P Chidambaram gave a talk on ‘Myth of development under the Modi regime’ on campus, organised by NSUI. The SFI, too, had called CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury for a talk last week.
However, other organisations like AISA and DSF said inviting elected representatives was a “blatant display of power”. “The ABVP-RSS-BJP clearly does not trust its leadership and activists to win a debate in JNU. It has, therefore, resorted to campaigning like it is a state/Lok Sabha election,” said DSF secretary Pratim Ghosal.
Sucheta De, AISA national president, said, “If three CMs are coming to campaign, it talks a lot about the kind of money, mantri power they are engaging in.” However, ABVP JNU president, Vijay Kumar, said there was nothing wrong with what they did. “If the Left and others can call their leaders, why can’t we call three or even 50 chief ministers?”
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