The clashes that broke out at Delhi University’s Ramjas College this week can be viewed as a spillover of the violence witnessed on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus last year.
However, there is a major political difference between the two institutions – while the Left has dominated student politics at JNU, Delhi University has been a bastion of the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for decades now.
Sources in the ABVP say they are concerned over “JNU culture” seeping into Delhi University, and the display of physical might witnessed over the last few days was the right-wing organisation’s way of stemming it. Even the RSS, which has been holding the reins to varsity politics for many decades now, does not wish to see it fall into the hands of Leftist groups such as the All India Student’s Federation (AISA).
The ABVP believes itself to be at the forefront of the battle against the JNU’s resident “anti-nationals”.
Vijendra Gupta, a BJP MLA from Delhi who was once an ABVP member, articulates this sentiment in no uncertain terms. “The nation comes first, and any attempt to destabilise it will not be tolerated,” he thunders.
The students of Ramjas College had organised an event titled, ‘The culture of protest’. The ABVP was irked by the fact that Umar Khalid – a JNU student arrested for sedition last year – figured among the panelists. “AISA is nowhere in Delhi University. As far as student politics is concerned, our fight is only with the Congress-backed National Students’ Union of India (NSUI). AISA can’t come here, ever. The students’ union of Ramjas College started this issue, not us. They approached us for help. If someone faces sedition charges, how can you turn him into a hero by giving him a platform to address students? We will never allow something like that,” says Shreerang Kulkarni, national media head of the ABVP.
Kulkarni claims ABVP members never enter into violent confrontations with the NSUI because it “has a different work culture”, despite being their chief opponent. “AISA comprises a bunch of liars who can’t protest peacefully. They resort to cheap tricks. For instance, AISA women tear their own clothes and accuse us of molestation. This is how they function,” he adds.
AISA members, on the other hand, believe that the ABVP is scared of them making in-roads into Delhi University. “If we are no challenge to them, they should have simply ignored us. But they didn’t. They are trying to identify members of our organisation and target them. But Delhi will soon free itself from their clutches,” says AISA president Sucheta De.
De goes on to accuse ABVP of behaving like a terrorist organisation. “The nation knows who resorts to violence and vandalism for silencing voices that don’t belong to the RSS or ABVP. They are behaving like the Thakur Sena of Mumbai. We have footage of ABVP members assaulting people. There are medical reports too,” she says.