Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad- Innocent Student Body Or Sly Political Party In Disguise?

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A student organisation or a right-wing affiliated, upper-caste group? University Express tries to solve the puzzle that is the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)

MUMBAI:  Aniket Ovhal, an MSc Computer Science student from Matunga’s Ruia College, says the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is largely a student body that acts as a stepping-stone for the talented in the city’s college campuses. “In the 1990s, the ABVP used to conduct big cultural programmes, where students with ‘pratibha’ (talent) found a platform to showcase their skills. Now, almost every college in the city has an inter-collegiate cultural competition, and we are joining hands with them to do more,” says the 26-year-old secretary of the body’s Mumbai Mahanagar unit. Ovhal may present the ABVP as a pro-student, beneficial-for-education kind of talent-hunting platform, but, in light of recent events, the ABVP as an organisation comes across as less a student body and more as a tool being used by the political parties in this country to sink their hooks in academics as well.

HYDERABAD : University politics would result in the suicide of one Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar at Hyderabad University, on January 17, is unimaginable and shocking as it brings forth the indecent and conscience numbing level of university politics and the ostracisation that Vemula, and other members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), allegedly suffered at the university. Looking at such incidents, the term ‘ragging’ sounds quite humane now. Does this incident have underneath it a more graver issue? Caste induced politics based on discrimination.Opinionated students bodies ABVP and ASA had a clash of ideals when the former protested against the latter’s support to 1993 bomb blast accused Yakub Menon, who was awarded the death penalty. This caused our very own political parties using to their advantage this clash and applying the British ‘divide and rule policy’ to align with either ABVP or Vemula and his supporters. Not only did it set off student politics in an aggressive manner, but resulted in it becoming a hunting ground for political parties to recruit students.

DELHI : Hyderabad may have made a goosebumps triggering headline, but Delhi stole its spotlight. ABVP earlier this month, stalled an agitation at Delhi’s Jawaharlal nehru University (JNU) against the 2013 hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted as a terrorist in the 2001 Parliament attack case. There have been allegations that the videos that have now gone viral on social media, show that not all present at JNU were students, raising placards and slogans against India and the Indian government. The silver lining of this issue that caused it to become a fully fledged controversy is the arrest, and further attacks, on the President of the JNU student’s union Kanhaiya Kumar. And, while students and the country’s intelligentsia stand on one side of the faultline, the ABVP stands on the other with its ideological parent, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for company.

COMING BACK TO MUMBAI : It has been reported that two weeks ago, ABVP has seen a phenomenal rise in membership in this city. Within just a year, the numbers in their ranks have risen from a mere 10,000 to a booming 45,000! That’s quite a number for a student body that calls itself “talent-hunting”. When asked about how they recruit, Vaibhav Tripathi, General Secretary of Mumbai East, ABVP said, “we targeted apolitical students and explained how ABVP functions. We may be close to RSS, but we do not take students to BJP rallies or for any political events.” His saying this did its bit, there’s no denying, feel some, that the ideology that the union represents has seen more takers in the recent past. Even in a largely Left-leaning campus such as the Tata Institute of Social (TISS). In the last one week, says Saqib Khan, one of the founding members of the Progressive Students Forum (PSF), posters that support the ABVP’s stance in JNU, screaming “anti-nationals go away” signed by “An Indian”, have cropped up at TISS. “Clearly the work of the small group of right-wing identifiers,” he comments. But, it’s not just posters.

The ABVP agenda on its website states: “We are above ‘partisan politics’ but we accept that social activity cannot be non political in a strict sense.”

Dr Vijay More, RPI Youth General Secretary Maharastra State, says that ABVP has become a stepping stone for those who want to gain entry into the BJP and that this is happening at colleges across the city, especially in colleges such as Ruparel, Ruia and Kirti. While the principal of Ruia College, the principal of Kirti College said that while a number of student parties exist on campus, elections are banned, and they are cordial with each other. An official from Ruparel college, not wishing to be identified, denied More’s statement and said, “Student party membership on college campuses are the choice of students. Campaigning on campuses is not permitted. All activities have to be conducted outside the campus. The question of students and politics is one that can be debated. While on the one hand, students need to be shown the principles of democracy and their rights, campus politics can be avoided. Colleges and education should be kept free of politics.” Either way, high or low, in the past or in the present, ABVP has  mastered the political art of staying in the news.

What sounds a lot like the side- plot of movie ‘Raanjhana’, this student politics interspersed with actual politics raises a lot of questions. Echoing what Dr. Vijay More said, is academics being infiltrated by politics? Can student platforms be used like this as early recruitment centres? If yes, to what extent? And if no, who will regulate it, keep it in check, to otherwise prevent more abuse of it resulting in suicides like Vemula’s?? This brings out in sharp relief the face of Indian Politics which won’t even leave academics alone. It bespoils the sanctity of student bodies, questioning their ideologies, destabilizing their working, and wreacking the whole point of their existence- cultural learning experience.

Source – http://www.mid-day.com/articles/deconstructing-the-storm-that-is-akhil-bharatiya-vidyarthi-parishad/16973162

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