Siwan in Bihar saw some unusual campaigning when All India Students Association (AISA) members from JNU went there recently. Speaking to the crowds was a Frenchwoman, her words translated by her fellow campaigner.
Naike Desquesnes, who finished her course in JNU in 2007, was motivated to undertake this trip by the death of a student she knew. That student, Chandrashekhar, was an AISA member who was killed while campaigning in Bihar. His comrades visited Siwan to finish his task - helping the landless.
Naike explains her interest, “I am doing research on radical students in JNU, particularly girls in AISA and DSU (Democratic Students Union).” She went to Bihar for a feel of the elections. “Since I was there, I said a few lines in two villages to express my solidarity with the Dalits, the women and the landless labourers. I spoke in English, but I could understand people talking to me in Hindi, since I’m learning it.”
Naike belongs to a Leftist body in Paris under which she has opposed privatisation. Interestingly, she is also a big fan of Rang De Basanti. JNU’s cub politicians have been very active in these polls, a change from the university’s usual insular outlook.