It is not necessary to have a political background to become a politician. There are several examples which prove this.
The list may not be long where student leaders have turned into big politicians, but there are few leaders who believe that student politics do offer a platform for the same.
Incidentally, the ones who have shined belong to middleclass families without having any political background.
Congress MLA Kuljit Nagra, former PUSU president while recalling his past said: "After Independence, student leaders who came forward were from the communist school of thought, who had a major role in beginning several movements such as the Naxalite movement and the JP movement. College and university students from Allahabad, Patna, Delhi, UP, Pune were the ones who began such movements."
"From 1970-80 several student leaders such as Pawan Bansal, Satyapal Jain, Ambika Soni, Sushma Swaraj, Jagmohan Kang, Surjeet Singh Barnala, Rajeev Pratap among others have become popular politicians," he added.
"After 1980, the situation again took a turn, when established leaders started getting insecure from student leaders stepping into main politics and then political leaders started dominating student politics," he further added.
He said this led to the formation of various student groups, which caused criminal unrest. Nagra said elections got banned in Haryana and in Punjab because of terrorism. "But thanks to our efforts we managed to start them in 1992 again and after I became the senate member in 1996 we again fought for direct elections in 1997. For a normal youngster who has no political background, student election is like a stepping stone and the only way to enter the main politics," he added.
Similarly, Jaswinder Singh Jassi came from a humble background and is currently the All India secretary of NSUI.
He said: "I came to Chandigarh after I got a scholarship through boxing in 2003. Then I became the president of Khalsa College in 2007 followed by talking admission in law at Panjab University. From the past one-and-a-half year I am the All India secretary of NSUI along with being a party in charge of Uttarakhand. Elections are not won by money and it is not necessary to have a political backing. Student politics do provide an opportunity to enter main politics, but consistency and sustainability is important as well as difficult."
In fact, a popular former student president of Panjab University Dalvir Singh Khangura Goldy went on to become Lok Sabha returning officer of Youth Congress Commission and is now the national coordinator of NSUI.
Goldy said: "From 2008 to 2011, I worked day and night in my constituency, Sangrur, with an aim to contest for MLA elections. However, I did not get the ticket. I ran an NGO, Aashirwaad, which focuses on making people aware of state and central government schemes. The political system is very tough here. The survival of the fittest is the only theory that works."
Goldy is now planning to contest for president's post for Punjab Youth Congress and is preparing for next MLA elections.
Saurabh Joshi, councillor from ward 2 contested for general secretary's post in 2002 followed by president's in 2003. He said: "If you look at the previous years starting from 1997, when direct elections took place, many leaders were seen involved in main politics. Student politics undoubtedly is a platform. But from the past five to six years, Panjab University elections have become personality-based election. Student activism no longer exits. Therefore lack of good leaders is felt."
Saurabh Joshi's elder brother Vineet Joshi was also ABVP's president from 1987 to 1997. Joshi, who is currently the assistant media advisor to Punjab government said: "Considering student politics as a stage depends from group to group. Parties such as ABVP, NSUI, SFI and AISF are national groups which are ideology-based and have a certain agenda. Students from such parties definitely get a bigger platform. They have an opportunity and an edge to enter the mainstream politics easily. Whereas other groups lacks ideology and don't have consistent policy. These leaders may or may not end up joining other national parties later."