With Lok Sabha elections round-the-corner, student outfits in the state are gearing up to campaign for their parent political bodies.
Himachal Pradesh's main parties, the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), have either set up units at the university or college level, or share ideologies with certain outfits.
While the Congress has set up the National Students' Union of India (NSUI), the CPM has the Students Federation of India (SFI), and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) shows ideological similarities with the BJP. The ABVP and NSUI are the top two organisations in the state, while the Left-backed SFI has a stronghold in the Himachal Pradesh University campus.
During the upcoming polls, the NSUI and the SFI have decided to campaign for their parent parties, while the ABVP will stay away from direct political campaigning.
ABVP joint secretary Ajay Thakur claimed that they would not favour any particular party, but spread awareness among people so they would "cast their vote to eradicate corruption and promote nationalism". "The ABVP is not a student outfit of any political party, and has only an ideological similarity with the BJP," he said.
However, ABVP sources told HT that while the outfit will not campaign for the BJP directly, its "internal" campaign would favour the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. "We will talk to people about nationalism, and Modi is the only one who talks about it," he added.
NSUI national delegate Yadopati Thakur said as the NSUI was the student front of the Congress, it would campaign for the party. "We will take the projects executed by the party in the last 10 years to the masses. We have also collected the suggestions and views of the state's youths for the party's youth manifesto," he claimed.
The SFI has decided to campaign against the privatisation of education and neo-liberal policies of the government. SFI state secretary Punit Dhanta said, "The SFI will try to make people aware of the anti-people policies of the Congress and BJP. Being the same ideological entity, it will campaign for CPM's candidates."
Himachal Pradesh University has provided a platform for many political leaders in the state. BJP's national secretary JP Nadda, state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, state BJP president Satpal Singh Satti, CPM state secretary Rakesh Singha and Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj started their careers as student politicians.